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Movistar: Valverde to 2016 Giro, Quintana targets Tour

The Spanish squad will send Alejandro Valverde to the Giro d'Italia, the first time he's raced the Italian grand tour.

Movistar is upping the stakes in 2016, sending Alejandro Valverde to the Giro d’Italia for the first time of his career and betting big on Nairo Quintana to win the Tour de France.

The Spanish super team has outlined its top goals for next year, and it’s clear the squad is upping the ante for the 2015 season. After riding to second in the 2015 Tour, Movistar believes the time has come for Quintana to win the yellow jersey.

“My top goal again will be the Tour,” Quintana said Friday at a team camp press conference. “I will have more responsibility on my shoulders, but I am more experienced to face that challenge.”

Movistar gathered its riders and staff in the shadow the Spanish Pyrénées this week to lay the groundwork for the 2016 season. Movistar looks even stronger, with the arrival of such riders as Dani Moreno (Katusha), Carlos Betancur (Ag2r La Mondiale), and Nelson Oliveira (Lampre-Merida).

The team remains firmly wrapped around its dual captains in Valverde and Quintana. The Colombian climber Quintana, twice second in the Tour and the winner of the 2014 Giro, is ready to take one step higher on the Paris podium.

Quintana outlined his 2016 campaign, starting with the Tour de San Luís in January. Once back in Europe, he’ll likely race the Volta a Catalunya and the Vuelta al Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) ahead of the Tour. Quintana is also targeting the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, and will likely race the Vuelta a España as well.

The big news Friday is confirmation that Valverde will race the Giro for the first time of his career. The veteran Spaniard, who won the Vuelta in 2009 and reached the Tour podium for the first time in his career this summer, will finally race the Italian grand tour.

“After so many years as a pro, we thought it was finally a good opportunity to ride the Giro,” said team boss Eusebio Unzué.

Valverde also outlined an ambitious 2016 racing season that will include the Giro, Tour, and the Olympics. He will also add such one-day classics as the Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) to his schedule.

“The idea of focusing on the one-day classics is to arrive fresher for the Rio Olympics,” Valverde said. “This year is a good chance to try the Giro, a race that I always wanted to start. And I like the idea of riding some of the cobbled classics, like Flanders.”

Valverde, who won Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège this season, will also race Milano-Sanremo, Strade Bianche, and Tirreno-Adriatico, giving him a strong Italian presence on his 2016 calendar.