La Roche-sur-Yon - Spanish elite cycling team Movistar will
try to win the Tour de France with a rare trident of 'three captains' in Nairo
Quintana, Mikel Landa and Alejandro Valverde.
There has been constant speculation over who the real leader
is in the team and the cat finally slipped out of the bag when a Spanish
journalist asked the three "If only one could survive - in a reference to
the Sean Connery movie 'Highlander' - who would it be?"
The "Highlander" action is based around immortal
warriors who can only die in battle with one another.
"All three of us are immortal," quipped the
"But it'd be Nairo first, then Mikel and finally, a bit
behind, me," said Valverde, who broke a knee on the 2017 Tour de France
"But the idea is to win. To win, to win, to win, and we
have a great team and the feeling is that this is the year."
Team director Eusbio Unzue was also in upbeat and confident
"We always think this is the year but this year even
more so," he said.
When asked who the paramount leader was he opened his arms
"Oh, how I would love to be in a position to choose
which one I would allow to win the Tour de France," he said.
"But chance and circumstance generally play a hand, so
let's see how we are when we have 1500km under the belt," he said.
"After this first nine days in the first part of the
Tour, we'll have a look at what shape everyone is in.
"But these three are also intelligent enough and big
enough to be honest about it and see which one of them is in the best shape
when the big moment comes," he said.
The tone was jocular until the subject switched to Tour
favourite Chris Froome who was jeered by the crowd at Thursday's presentation
of the teams.
"That was a shame, a great, great shame and it should
stop because it's not right."
Quintana, who is on good terms with Froome and who came
second to him on two previous Tours de France also backed the British Sky Team
"They really took it huh?" he said.
"That was quite disagreeable for him and I hope this
stops, think it will once the racing starts."
Landa, who switched from Sky to Movistar after helping
Froome win last year's Tour, said his new team were in the same league as Sky.
"We have nothing to be jealous about, but it's up to us
to prove we are as good as them."
Valverde knows a Tour can be lost on any given day after
being caught once in the kind of crosswind expected this week and getting
dropped despite four of his team dropping back to help him after a puncture.
"It can be complicated with the wind, the hills and the
cobbles," said Valverde, who leads a team that will be happier in the
"On a seafront, or some cobbles, you can get a puncture
or get caught up in a fall and really lose some time, you really have to watch
out not to lose your Tour like that.