The team was originally founded in Pamplona as an amateur squad by Eusebio Unzué, who still manages it after leaving the wise José Miguel Echavarri in the driver's seat for many years. After 37 successive Tour de France starts, the management still remembers how the team burst sensationally onto the Tour scene. Its first participation, in 1983, ended with Ángel Arroyo as runner-up to Laurent Fignon! It also got a fabulous one-two in the Puy de Dôme time trial, where the other rider was Pedro Delgado, who would go on to become the third Spanish Tour de France champion in 1988, following in the footsteps of Federico Bahamontes and Luis Ocaña.
Then, the Banesto bank took over from the Reynolds aluminium company and Miguel Indurain filled Delgado's shoes. The Navarrese, a home-grown rider who remained loyal to the team until he retired on 2 January 1997, came to epitomise Spanish cycling. Echavarri and Unzué tried to continue the success story begun by Indurain by hiring Abraham Olano and Alejandro Valverde, who managed to win the Vuelta a España but not the Tour de France, where all they got was stage wins. However, fate came up with a curious and utterly incredible way of bringing the yellow jersey back to Navarre when, in 2006, the peloton gifted Óscar Pereiro half an hour in a breakaway after he had conceded 26 minutes in the Pyrenees.
Under its different avatars as Illes Balears, Caisse d'Épargne and Movistar, the evergreen Spanish Armada has rarely left the Grande Boucle empty-handed. In 2012, Valverde seized his eleventh-hour opportunity in the Pyrenees by winning the stage to Peyragudes. In 2014, he finished just outside the podium, but he finally stepped onto it for the first time in 2015, at the ripe age of 35, taking third place while Nairo Quintana repeated his 2013 exploit to finish second. The Colombian earned another podium place in 2016 (third) but flopped in 2017 (twelfth), when Valverde was knocked out of the race by a nasty crash in the opening time trial in Düsseldorf.
The sole survivor of the ailing Spanish cycling scene, a squad which has seen great champions come and go, Movistar is a true Tour team, past and present. In 2018 and 2019, it again proved its mettle in the Grande Boucle in the face of Team Sky/Ineos's dominance, taking a mountain stage with Quintana as well as the team classification, but failing to make an impact on the fight for the podium as it spread its resources among three riders instead of focusing on a single leader. As a result, Mikel Landa, Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde finished seventh, tenth and fourteenth in 2018 and sixth, eighth and ninth in 2019, respectively. At the ripe age of 40, the 2018 world champion is the only one of the three who has stayed on the team, racing alongside Enric Mas, seen by some as the next Contador.
- Final victories7
- Stages victories33
- Yellows Jerseys79
- Other races Won12
Overall wins: 7
- 1988: Pedro Delgado
- 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995: Miguel Indurain
- 2006: Óscar Pereiro (following the disqualification of Floyd Landis)
Stage wins: 33
- 1983: Ángel Arroyo on the Puy de Dôme (ITT)
- 1984: Ángel Arroyo in Morzine
- 1985: Eduardo Chozas in Aurillac
- 1986: Julián Gorospe in Saint-Étienne
- 1988: Pedro Delgado in Villard-de-Lans (ITT)
- 1989: Miguel Indurain in Cauterets
- 1990: Miguel Indurain at Luz-Ardiden
- 1991: Miguel Indurain in Alençon (ITT) and Mâcon (ITT)
- 1992: Miguel Indurain in San Sebastián (prologue), Luxembourg (ITT) and Blois (ITT)
- 1993: Miguel Indurain in Puy-du-Fou (prologue) and Lac de Madine (ITT)
- 1994: Miguel Indurain in Bergerac (ITT)
- 1995: Miguel Indurain in Seraing (ITT) and Lac de Vassivière (ITT)
- 1997: Abraham Olano in Eurodisney (ITT)
- 2000: Vicente García Acosta in Draguignan
- 2003: Juan Antonio Flecha in Toulouse and Pablo Lastras in Saint-Maixent-L'École
- 2005: Alejandro Valverde at Courchevel
- 2008: Alejandro Valverde in Plumelec and Luis León Sánchez in Aurillac
- 2009: Luis León Sánchez in Saint-Girons
- 2011: Rui Costa in Super-Besse
- 2012: Alejandro Valverde in Peyragudes
- 2013: Rui Costa in Gap and Le Grand-Bornand and Nairo Quintana in Annecy-Le Semnoz
- 2016: Ion Izagirre in Morzine
- 2018: Nairo Quintana in Saint-Lary-Soulan/Col du Portet
- 2019: Nairo Quintana in Valloire
Secondary classification wins: 12
- 1991: team classification
- 1999: team classification
- 2000: Francisco Mancebo (best young rider)
- 2003: Denis Menchov (best young rider)
- 2004: Vladimir Karpets (best young rider)
- 2013: Nairo Quintana (best climber and best young rider)
- 2015: Nairo Quintana (best young rider) and team classification
- 2016: team classification
- 2018: team classification
- 2019: team classification
Yellow jerseys: 79
- 1988: Pedro Delgado, eleven days
- 1991: Miguel Indurain, ten days
- 1992: Miguel Indurain, ten days
- 1993: Miguel Indurain, fourteen days
- 1994: Miguel Indurain, thirteen days
- 1995: Miguel Indurain, thirteen days
- 2006: Óscar Pereiro, six days
- 2008: Alejandro Valverde, two days
A FIGURE 60:
the number of days spent by Miguel Indurain in yellow.
16 July 1983: the debuting Reynolds team goes one-two in the 15.6 km time trial from Clermont-Ferrand to the Puy de Dôme with rookies Ángel Arroyo (second in Paris behind Laurent Fignon) and Pedro Delgado.
19 July 1991: the defending champion, Greg LeMond, crumbles in the last kilometre of the Tourmalet and Miguel Indurain takes the first step towards his maiden win after a screaming descent with Claudio Chiappuci.
15 July 2006: the Tour is turned on its head. Having finished the Pla de Beret stage 26 minutes down on the winner, Óscar Pereiro takes the yellow jersey by finishing second in Montélimar, 29′57″ ahead of the bunch.
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