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“The other goal is our development program, with young riders who will be seeing more chances this year. There’s room for everyone.”

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ION IZAGIRRE

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JESUS HERNANDEZ BLAZQUEZ

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JUAN JOSE LOBATO

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MOVISTAR TEAM

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RUBEN FERNANDEZ

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11.02.2015 @ 16:48 Posted by Joseph Doherty

The great Spanish stars Joquim Rodriguez (35), Samuel Sanchez (37), Alberto Contador (32) and Alejandro Valverde (34) are all heading into the final years as pros, with them all gone by the end of 2017 most likely.

 

Of course those aren’t the only four current Spanish pros, with riders like Daniel Moreno, Luis Leon Sanchez, Haimar Zubeldia, Juan Manuel Garate and Angel Vicioso all winning big in their careers. But none have been able to win anything more than a few Grand Tour stages and in Moreno’s case, Fleche Wallonne and a stint leading the Vuelta.

 

The Spanish public are hungry for Grand Tour and Monument wins, which three of the above all have at least one of, with Sanchez making up for his lack with the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal.

 

But Spain’s only WorldTour team, Movistar, is grooming four more young Spaniards to replace them so that they wont be missed too much when their gone. The current goal, as highlighted by team boss Eusebio Unzue is to simply develop the four riders.

 

“We have two goals here. The first is built around our confirmed captains, such as Valverde, Quintana, and others, and we bring strong support for them to win in every race we go to,” Unzué said. “The other is our development program, with young riders who will be seeing more chances this year. There’s room for everyone.”

 

Who are the four riders? They are Juan Jose Lobato (26), Jesus Herrada (24), Ion Izagirre (26) and Ruben Fernandez (24). Between them they have a grand tour stage, (Izagirre) and some good GC results, and are already featuring at the pointy end of Monuments too, with Lobato fourth in Sanremo last year.

 

All of the four bar Fernandez will lead the team at the Giro d’Italia along with former Maglia Rosa Benat Intxausti, while Quintana and Valverde will lead the team in the Tour and Vuelta.

 

“We have the Giro for younger riders, who are looking for their chance to lead,” Unzué continued. “We have Nairo and Alejandro for the Tour and Vuelta, so the Giro is an ideal race for these rising talents to have the full support of the team, to see what they can do.”

 

While Fernandez wont be gracing the roads of Italy, he is perhaps the rider who has the most hope and is valued very highly by the team after winning the Tour de l’Avenir (U23 Tour de France) in 2013.

 

“We’ll see how he develops. He certainly has a lot of talent. You don’t win the Avenir by chance,” said Movistar sport director José Luis Arrieta. “We don’t want to put too much pressure on him. He will have a chance to grow into the rider he’s meant to be. Whether that means he can challenge in grand tours simply remains to be seen.”

 

Fernandez himself hopes to have a good season, after a superb ride Down Under, where he was third on Willunga Hill and fifth on GC.

 

“I hope I can keep it going. Now it’s complicated to think about what I can achieve this season, but I’d like to try to win a stage and fight for the GC in some stage races,” Fernández said in a recent interview. “My results at the Tour Down Under gave me a little more confidence in myself. I know I can fight with the best.”

 

He doesn’t seem too down about not riding the Giro either: “I am happy with the calendar this season,” he said. “I’ve really worked hard over the winter. I’m excited to see what I can do this season.”

 

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