At the start of the 2012 Tour de France, all the focus will be on Team BMC, which is perfect for other teams chomping at the bit to attack. For other teams trying to pick up stage wins, gain attention for their sponsors and maybe even steal away the general classification, they’ll need a combination of skill and good luck.
One such team that is flying under the radar—even after an impressive couple of weeks of pro racing—is the Spanish-based Team Movistar. Rui Costa won the general classification of the Tour de Suisse, and Nairo Quintana won the overall at the Route du Sud.
Rui Costa and Alejandro Valverde will certainly be members of the Movistar tour squad, while 2011 Vuelta a Espana winner Juan Jose Cobo likely will also partake in the excitement. The rest of the squad will be finalized in the coming days.
Valverde will be the team’s GC rider—despite serving as an excellent domestique for Cobo during the Tour de Suisse—and you can expect Movistar to pick up a stage win or two along the way. Valverde may work a double threat with Cobo; if one rider falters, his counterpart will step up and chase glory.
The team spent more than one week training in Spain’s Sierra Nevada mountains last month, logging climbing miles at elevation. The team is a squad based more on being mountain goats, so they’ll have to ride aggressively to counter the more than 100 kilometers of time trials that will be spread throughout the the Tour.
I don’t expect miracles from Team Movistar when the race starts, but don’t be surprised if they are at the front of the peloton in the mountains. Valverde is a clever rider with strong accelerations and is anxious to prove himself as a legitimate contender. If he struggles, Movistar will have at least one rider capable of making a splash during the three-week race.