Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde was named at the head of Movistar’s Giro D’Italia team on Monday in his 15th professional cycling season.

He was third at the 2015 Tour de France and in April climbed to a memorable victory on the steep Mur de Huy at the Fleche Wallone spring classic for a third straight victory there.

Alberto Contador won last season’s Giro and while Astana’s Italian climber and 2013 champion Vicenzo Nibali is favourite and Sky’s new recruit Mikel Landa second favourite, Valverde presents a real threat.

The 36-year-old has 18 Grand Tours under his belt and if not for a tendency to suffer an off day from time to time, would have a better record than the single Tour of Spain win from 2009.

He did a wonderful job guiding Nairo Quintana to second on the 2015 Tour and his Colombian partner was unfortunate Sky’s Chris Froome pipped him to eventual victory when a climb on which he had planned to attack the Briton was shortened at the last minute.

He will be helped in Italy by last year’s king of the mountains winner Italy’s Giovanni Visconti, and Costa Rican Andrey Amador, who came fourth in 2015.

Movistar’s Giro team:

Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Andrey Amador (CRC), Carlos Betancur (COL), José Herrada (ESP), Javi Moreno (ESP), José Joaquín Rojas (ESP), Rory Sutherland (AUS), Jasha Sütterlin (GER), Giovanni Visconti (ITA)

– Agence France-Presse

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