The team was originally founded in Pamplona as an amateur squad by Eusebio Unzué, who still manages it after leaving wise José Miguel Echavarri in the driver's seat for many years. After 36 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 finishing as runner-up, second only to Laurent Fignon! It also got a fabulous one-two in the Puy de Dôme time trial, with the other rider being 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 began 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. But history found a curious and utterly incredible way of giving the yellow jersey back to the Navarrese when, in 2006, the peloton gifted Óscar Pereiro half an hour in a breakaway after he had conceded twenty-six 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 (3rd) but flopped in 2017 (12th), when Valverde was knocked out of the race by a nasty crash during 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, as proved by Richard Carapaz with his victory in the 2019 Giro. In 2018, it again proved its mettle in the Grande Boucle in the face of Team Sky's dominance, taking a stage win with Quintana as well as the team classification, with Mikel Landa as its highest-placed rider in seventh place overall. Reigning world champion Alejandro Valverde remains the team's most emblematic figure.
Overall wins: 7
Stage wins: 32
Secondary classification wins: 11
Yellow jerseys: 79
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: defending champion Greg LeMond cracks 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 a few days later by finishing second in Montélimar, 29′57″ ahead of the bunch.
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