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Movistar will bring its superstars to the Ardennes classics, with Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana poised to take on Flèche Wallonne (April 22) and Liège-Bastogne-Liège (April 26).
The Spanish “blues” confirmed that both will race Flèche and Liège, while Valverde will be racing for the podium in Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race.
Valverde, 34, has been a consistent performer across the Ardennes, with two victories in Flèche (2006, 2014), and two at Liège (2006, 2008), but Amstel Gold has proven elusive, with a second in 2013.
“The Ardennes are races that fit my characteristics perfectly,” Valverde told VeloNews in an earlier interview. “They will be my major early-season goals. I’d love to win Amstel Gold, because it’s one that’s gotten away from me so far.”
Quintana, meanwhile, only raced Liège once, finishing 50th in 2013. All but one of Quintana’s 21 career wins have come in stage races. His lone one-day race victory was the Giro dell’Emilia in 2012, but he hopes to expand his repertoire to include more classics.
“It’s true, the focus for me has been on stage races, but I also like the classics,” Quintana said in an interview. “Races like Liège are part of the history of cycling, and I would like to add my name to the palmares sometime during my career.”
Movistar doesn’t have the firepower to legitimately challenge the cobble-bashers over the northern classics, but its fleet of sleek climbers and puncheurs tends to shine in the hillier terrain of the Ardennes.
The Spanish team brings a strong squad in support, with Imanol Erviti, José Herrada, Gorka Izagirre, JJ Rojas, Rory Sutherland, and Giovanni Visconti. John Gadret will race Amstel Gold on Sunday in place of Quintana.