2011 Vuelta a Espana winner Juan Jose Cobo’s widely-expected signing with Movistar has been confirmed today. In what is one of the last major transfers of the 2011 season, Cobo – who unexpectedly won the Vuelta ahead of Britons Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins – will race with Movistar for the next two years.

The 30-year-old Cobo already raced with Movistar in 2010, his least successful season to date, after which he moved on to Geox.

However, the collapse of the Geox squad this October left Cobo (who had re-signed with Geox for 2012 following his Vuelta victory) teamless for next season, and at Movistar he will be, at the very least, be able to count on strong back-up in what is one of Spain’s two last remaining WorldTour teams.

For Movistar director Eusebio Unzue, signing Cobo – who currently ranks as the country’s second best stage racer, at a considerable distance behind Alberto Contador – was “another step forward in the quality of our roster.”

“Victory in the Vuelta changed his mentality, whilst his physical conditions will remain just as strong as we saw this season.”

Cobo’s return to Movistar coincides with the return of Alejandro Valverde, the 2009 Vuelta winner, to the same squad following Valverde’s ban for doping. As a result, the Spanish squad will have a far stronger line-up for stage races than in 2011, where they failed to make it onto the podium of a Grand Tour – traditionally their speciality – and were forced to target stage wins instead.

The team will be officially presented in Madrid on January 4.

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