Movistar will field women’s team in 2018

Movistar is investing in women's cycling with a new team said to be mostly Spanish riders. Also, Valverde confirms he'll be back.

Movistar confirmed it will create a top-level women’s team in 2018 season. The team will debut next season with a lineup of nine or 10 riders, with the promise of having it “70 percent Spanish.”

“It’s a project we’ve been planning for several, and finally, in 2018 it will be a reality,” said Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué. “I couldn’t say no to a project like this.”

Backed by Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica, and its Movistar brand, Unzué will have the budget to build the team, ideally ready for the Women’s WorldTour in 2019.

Data also supported the decision, with an estimated 40 percent of the viewing audience of the recent Vuelta a España being women. There are also an estimated 2 million women who regularly ride bikes in Spain.

The team will share equipment sponsors with the men’s WorldTour team, and will race on Canyon bikes.

Valverde: ‘No plans to retire’

Movistar’s Alejandro Valverde confirmed he will not race again in 2017, but said he has no plans to retire following his career-threatening crash during this year’s Tour de France.

“I immediately knew it was a serious injury. Luckily, I was operated on quickly in Germany, and the recovery’s gone perfectly,” Valverde said during a press conference Monday. “I’ve never thought of retiring. I have two years left on my contract, and I plan on fulfilling it.”

Valverde said he considered returning to racing in October at the new WorldTour race in China, but decided it was too soon. He may make a comeback at the Santos Tour Down Under in January, but he’s not putting a firm date on his return to competition.

Unzué: ‘We nearly signed Contador in 2010’

Unzué’s worked with some of the biggest names in Spanish cycling, from Pedro Delgado to Miguel Induraín, but he never had Alberto Contador.

The Spanish manager revealed that he nearly signed Contador in 2010 for the 2011 season.

“The Contador deal was done. Everything was agreed upon, and we were just waiting for Movistar to confirm its sponsorship,” Unzué told AS. “The deal was delayed a few days more than we expected, and Contador had to make a decision under pressure from sponsors. In the end, it didn’t work out, and he went with Saxo Bank. Later, we already had Valverde and Nairo [Quintana], so we decided that we had everything covered.”