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Team Movistar broadens ambitions for 2021 as Alejandro Valverde reconfirms it’s his last season

A new e-sports team and arrivals of Annemiek van Vleuten, Iván García Cortina give brand more versatility.

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Team Movistar has long been a sure bet in the grand tours, and that won’t change in 2021.

What will change is that the team is broadening its reach.

On its women’s team, the arrival of superstar Annemiek van Vleuten puts them at the forefront of the peloton in any race. And on the men’s side, the addition of Iván García Cortina brings some oxygen to the team’s long-dormant classics ambitions.

“We have a very ambitious season ahead of us,” said Movistar boss Eusebio Unzué. “With Annemiek, the women’s team can take a big step forward. And the northern classics will be a new big goal for us with Iván, and we hope we can win one of those races that we do not have on our palmarès.”

Van Vleuten and American Leah Thomas are the top signings for Movistar’s women’s WorldTour team, now in its fourth year. García Cortina and Miguel Ángel López, currently diagnosed with COVID-19, are the top new arrivals for the men’s teams.

“I hope to really add something to this team,” van Vleuten said. “I am not only focused on the Olympic Games. I am 100 percent focused on doing some beautiful things with this team, and then we’ll look to Tokyo.”

Unzué, who has been involved with the Movistar franchise since its founding in the 1980s, also confirmed that a new e-sports racing team will include five women and five men.

Behind those headlines, the team’s core riders largely remain in place from the 2021 season.

Unzué revealed the major targets for its “vueltómanos,” with Enric Mas and López going to the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. Marc Soler will target the Giro d’Italia.

Alejandro Valverde will continue his all-rounder role by targeting a mix of stage races and one-day classics, with the Olympic Games at the center of the veteran’s ambitions. Valverde also reconfirmed that 2021 will be his final season.

“I start the season at 40 years old, with the idea that it’s going to be my last. It’s going to be a special year, and hopefully, we can race all the races, despite the virus,” Valverde said. “I hope to be at the Ardennes, the Olympic Games, and the Vuelta as my top goals.”

What won’t change is the team’s ever-steady presence across the WorldTour calendar. The arrival of López gives the men’s team a second card to play in the grand tours. And it’s almost a guarantee the team will be in the hunt for the team’s classification.