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Photo: Dan Cavallari | VeloNews.com

Movistar continues to bet on youth

With a wave of top names leaving for 2020, Spain's lone WorldTour team is reloading with young talent.

Movistar is seeing a fleet of its veterans out the door in 2020, so it’s bolstering its bench with younger riders.

The Spanish WorldTour team might be losing the likes of Nairo Quintana (Arkéa-Samsic), Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Merida) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos), but Alejandro Valverde is sticking around and Enric Mas (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) is coming on board. To fill out its roster, the team is signing up a string of young, promising riders.

On Tuesday, the team confirmed that 22-year-old Mathias Norsgaard of Denmark will join for 2020, with Edu Prades extending his contract.

Norsgaard is the team’s 12th signing for next year, and the team’s eighth rider for the 2020 roster 23 years or under, joining Gabriel Cullaigh, Iñigo Elosegui, Juan Diego Alba, Einer Rubio, Johan Jacobs, Juri Hollmann and U.S. rider Matteo Jorgenson in its fleet of younger riders.

At taller than 2 meters (more than 6-foot-5), Norsgaard will be the tallest ever rider to be part of the Abarca Sports organization, officials confirmed. A strong time trialist, he was a bronze medalist in the 2018 U23 ITT and fourth in Yorkshire. Norsgaard also won stage one of the Tour de l’Avenir, with a 120km breakaway.

Prades won two races in his WorldTour debut in 2019 at the age of 32, including the overall at the Vuelta a Aragon, and a stage at the Tour de la Provence.

The moves are part of a dramatic shakeup of the Spanish team for 2020. Twelve new riders are coming in for next season, with 13 departures. Others leaving include Winner Anacona (Arkéa-Samsic), Carlos Barbero (NTT), Rafael Walls (Bahrain-Merida), Jasha Sutterlin (Sunweb) and Ruben Fernandez (Euskadi). Spanish media reports say that Movistar is still hoping to retain Andrey Amador despite him being linked to a late-hour move to Ineos. Daniele Bennati confirmed his retirement last week, citing back injuries. The future of Carlos Betancur remains uncertain as well.

For 2020, Movistar will be counting on Mas and Marc Soler to step up as GC leaders, as well as Valverde, who is already setting his sights on the 2020 Olympic Games.