Much has been made of teams like Movistar adopting or imitating Sky’s detailed approach to tackling stage racing which has proved so successful to them recently. With riders like Alex Dowsett now successfuly migrated & fully absorbed in Movistar, disclosing many of the Sky methods, can we also presume that they’ll not take the Sky format as an absolutely precise model, especially if they are missing one or two elements. Perhaps they’ve thought up their own improvements to the Sky template for success, perhaps they’ve got Sky plus?
While I agree with the thoughts on the latest Velocast podcast regarding the sensible approach to rider development & looking after young riders, there’s also another possibility with the on/off nature of Quintana’s race programme. The addition that Movistar could introduce to the Sky model, could be an element of tactical deception.
Sky are famous for stating a race plan, then carrying out that plan with no intention of masking exactly what they’re up to. This has been a bit hit & miss, especially in the classics, where holding your cards close to your chest is much more vital than the out & out power to weight/aerodynamic calculations necessary to win grand tours in the mountains & time trials. But these entirely unhidden team driven tactics do get the results required, if not the fans approval or the spectacle of mano-mano battles we have seen in the past. Could teams like Movistar, while adopting the Sky approach to training & equipment, improve on the formula by introducing some additional psychological tactics which Sky have not yet included, both on & off the bike.
Quintana renewed his contract for an additional two years after the Tour of Britain, taking him up to the end of 2015, where he would be free to move to another team. The latest reports suggest that he will contest the Vuelta this year, most likely skipping the Giro & definitely not starting the Tour de France. This would leave him only one guaranteed attempt at the Tour with Movistar. I find it hard to believe that in these corporate times, that a team would be happy to let a genuine Tour contender not start, to allow him to develop properly in less high-profile races, potentially having more success for another team.
I wouldn’t rule out the reported information from Movistar regarding his programme for 2014, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Nairo didn’t start the Giro, but arrived as a ‘last minute decision’ in storming form for a Tour de France assault. Leaving everything for the Vuelta is also a gamble, banking everything on staying healthy & injury free until the end of the season.
I think we’ll see something else. I think we’ll see Froome training to deal with less capable Movistar potential captains, Sky selecting a team for that purpose & seeing Quintana deal a psychological blow to them in the days before the Tour starts. I’ve been very wrong before, but corporate sponsors demand a return on their investment, allowing a rider to mature & reap the rewards under another corporations sponsorship isn’t going to go down too well at the board table or sponsorship renewal meeting. We’ll probably not know until Yorkshire, Nairo liked the UK climbs, he may be back for some more.