Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde will lead Movistar’s bid for a second Grand Tour win of the season after the Spanish team unveiled a strong Vuelta a Espana line-up.
There is no place, however, for Commonwealth Games time trial champion Alex Dowsett. The Englishman had been named on the team’s provisional longlist as a reserve but did not make the final squad.
Giro d’Italia champion Quintana starts the race on the back of winning the Vuelta a Burgos and is among the favourites to claim the red jersey.
The Colombian is joined by five of the riders who helped him to seal the maglia rosa at this year’s Giro d’Italia – Costa Rican Andrey Amador, Italian time trial champion Adriano Malori and Spanish trio Jonathan Castroviejo, Jose Herrada and Gorka Izaguirre.
Valverde, currently top of the WorldTour rankings after his fourth place at the Tour de France and Clasica San Sebastian success, will also be challenging for GC honours while Imanol Erviti and Javi Moreno complete the line-up.
Movistar are looking to cement their position as the WorldTour’s number one team – a title they also sealed last year – at their home Grand Tour.
And general manager Eusebio Unzue believes both Valverde and Quintana are capable of challenging overall against a strong field.
“It will be the race itself which decides who our leader will be,” he explained. “Probably, no Grand Tour has had a stronger field in recent years – almost all big riders in the WorldTour, all of them confident about their chances of overall success.
“As far as we’re concerned, and with all due caution against such a start list, having Nairo and Alejandro in our team means we have to start the race with the intention of contesting the victory.
“Nairo has spent 70 days without racing, but still brought his professionalism to the fore coming in good shape to the race plus Alejandro is a really important man for us, and I also think he can be in the thick of things GC-wise.
“By their side, they will rely on a balanced, strong group.”
Unzue believes the race’s two individual time trials will be as important as the mountain stages and he has also ear-marked the likes of Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) and Fabio Aru (Astana) as riders to watch alongside the favourites.
Movistar team for the 2014 Vuelta a Espana
Alejandro Valverde (ESP)
Nairo Quintana (COL)
Gorka Izaguirre (ESP)
Andrey Amador (CRC)
Adriano Malori (ITA)
Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP)
Jose Herrada (ESP)
Imanol Erviti (ESP)
Javi Moreno (ESP)