Telefónica set to rekindle ties with Vuelta a España

Spanish telecommunications group Telefónica has agreed a three-year deal to return as a sponsor of cycling’s Vuelta a España, according to El Pais.

Telefonica sponsored the Vuelta, one of the sport’s three ‘Grand Tour’ events, between 1999 and 2002 and the Spanish newspaper said it will become one of the six main sponsors of the competition through its Movistar brand.

Under the deal, El Pais said Movistar will sponsor the award for the race’s most combative rider along with becoming a supplier and technology partner. Citing sources close to the company, the newspaper added that the deal will expand in the future with Movistar replacing rival telco Vodafone as a top-tier partner.

In September, Telefónica extended its title sponsorship of UCI WorldTour cycling squad Team Movistar through its mobile phone operator brand.

The three-year agreement means the Team Movistar moniker is set to remain in place through the 2019 WorldTour season. The announcement came a day after Movistar’s star rider, Nairo Quintana (pictured), claimed victory in the 2016 Vuelta a España. The Colombian’s contract has also been extended to run across the duration of the new title sponsorship deal.

Team Movistar’s manager, Eusebio Unzue, maintained the latest deal will not affect the sponsorship of the team or influence its sporting decisions.

“Obviously, if Nairo, for example, rides the Vuelta next year (2017), it will not depend on whether or not Movistar sponsors the race,” he told El Pais. “It will be a purely sporting decision. The sponsor has always respected our criteria.”