Iván Sosa caps Movistar’s late-season surge with victory at Tour de Langkawi

Movistar ends the season ranked 11th in the running points tally to secure its WorldTour future for 2023.

Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

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Iván Sosa won the overall at Le Tour de Langkawi on Tuesday to cap an under-the-gun late-season run by Movistar that saved the team’s future.

The Spanish team was looking down the barrel at possible WorldTour relegation midway through 2022, but a string of steady results in the closing months of the season secured the team’s future.

Sosa’s win Tuesday at the eight-day race — the final event on the 2022 calendar to earn points for the major teams — puts a winning touch on the team’s season finale.

“I’m thankful to my teammates and staff for all the support throughout this race since I got the jersey on Thursday,” Sosa said. “It’s been a tough few days, the peloton never making things easy for that, but we’ve been able to close out this 2022 season in the best possible way, claiming a second title and with the best energy for what’s to come in the future, after a tough season for all of us.”

Also read: Flooding forces changes at Langkawi

Flooding and heavy rains forced the cancelation of Monday’s decisive climbing stage, but Sosa had already moved into the overall lead with a win ahead of Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) at Genting Highlands.

Movistar controlled an attack-riddled finale on a circuit course Tuesday. Matteo Jorgenson also closed out his strong 2022 campaign that saw him shine during his Tour de France in July.

Movistar secures its WorldTour future

A strong late season helped Movistar secure its WorldTour future. (Photo: Bas Czerwinski/Getty Images)

The victory comes as a salve for Sosa, who fell ill during the Giro d’Italia in May in what was supposed to have been his moment to shine for the team.

His sub-par Giro seemed to put Movistar on the wrong foot going into the decisive season of a three-season running tally of UCI points to determine the next round of WorldTour licenses.

Also read: Movistar poised for new co-sponsor

Crashes by star rider Enric Mas at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Critérium du Dauphiné and his subsequent departure from the Tour de France for COVID-19 put the team into panic mode as it hovered near the relegation zone.

Mas rebounded nicely to finish second overall at the Vuelta a España, and a string of wins and top results from other riders turned around Movistar’s fortunes.

By September, the team moved up nicely in the UCI rankings, and ends the three-year points tally ranked 11th in the top-team rankings, well within the “safe” zone of the top 18-ranked team who will qualify for WorldTour licenses going into 2023.

With reports of a second title sponsor coming on board, Movistar looks secure going into the next several seasons.

For the 24-year-old Sosa, who still packs one more year on his contract at Movistar for 2023, going into the off-season with a win will help his confidence.

“Now I’ll have to recover, but this week will really help me to prepare for the next season,” Sosa said. “It’s a morale booster and I’m glad to keep the tradition of Colombian winners in Malaysia alive.”

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