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Team Movistar makes welcome move to shake up the women’s peloton in 2021

Signings of Annemiek van Vleuten and Leah Thomas marks start of renewed focus on women's racing at the Spanish squad.

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Movistar’s women’s team dialed up its finance director and has been busy on the switchboards of the transfer market in the past few months.

A few calls later, and the Spanish squad is set to shake up the WorldTour heading into its fourth year in the women’s peloton.

With the signing of American Leah Thomas, Danish powerhouse Emma Cecilie Norsgaard, and world superstar Annemiek van Vleuten, Movistar is looking to take it to dominant squads such as Mitchelton-Scott, Trek-Segafredo and SD Worx in the way that its men’s team challenges at the pointy end of the other side of the sport.

Multiple world champion Van Vleuten will spearhead a season that the team has described as “a decisive step forward in its goal to become a reference in the UCI Women’s WorldTour peloton.” Movistar’s additional focus will add a fresh power to the sport alongside the new-formed Jumbo-Visma women’s team, led by Marianne Vos.

Can the Unzués – general manager Eusebio and team manager Sebastián – live up to their bold hopes?

Here’s hoping so.

The 2020 season saw the disaster shuttering of Équipe Paule Ka, and continuing grumbles of dissatisfaction over television coverage, substandard wages and a lack of parity with the men’s peloton. A strengthening of the footprint of women’s racing in Spain, one of the traditional hotbeds of pro cycling, can only be a good move for all involved.

Movistar is going to be about more than just Van Vleuten and rising Californian Thomas going into the next few seasons however.

The squad has also bolstered its existing roster, extending the contracts of Jelena Erić, Paula Patiño, Katrine Aalerud and Gloria Rodríguez through to 2023, with home star Sheyla Gutiérrez also on the books through 2021. It’s a lineup that the team is proudly proclaiming to be its “strongest, most balanced squad in its four years in the peloton.”

With a world-beating captain and renewed focus on women’s racing, Movistar is set to turn up the dimmer on women’s cycling one notch, and with the big-money backing of telecoms giant Telefonica pulling the pursestrings, has the coffers to make it count.

“There is one Movistar Team before and one after Annemiek’s arrival,” said team manager Sebastián Unzué.

Bring it on.

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