Team Movistar, it seems, have fallen under the spell of minimalist guru and ‘organising consultant’ Marie Kondo, the uber-influential Japanese goddess of de-clutter.
Her method can be summarised thus: gather your possessions together by category; keep only those that spark joy; ditch the rest. Live a ruthlessly efficient, structured, stripped-down life. Occasionally regret chucking away the vintage record player and your old canvas tent.
Quick whip round with the hoover, whack in a Glade Plug-in, et voila…before you know it you’ve got your own Netflix special.
Towards the end of 2019, all signs suggest that Movistar boss Eusebio Unzue got busy.
It seems he received Ms Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up as a Christmas present, started to read it out of politeness, got hooked by page twelve and had it finished by Boxing Day. By New Year he had implemented operation Kondo hook, line, and sinker.
After ordering his possessions (by nationality and personality type) he found no joy in Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa, or Richard Carapaz, and had them bagged up and shipped off to his local charity shop. They were subsequently picked up, along with an old plaid shirt, a dog-eared Jamie Oliver recipe book, and a faded Gucci man-bag, for a reasonable price by a variety of teams.
De, it’s fair to say, cluttered.
Their replacement came in the form of a joyous and precociously young roster of riders for 2020; the likes of Juan Diego Alba (age 22), Matteo Jorgenson (20), and Einer Rubio (21). Fourteen new signings. Eight riders under twenty-three,
Young pups every last one of them.Embed from Getty Images
The talisman of the team, of course, is still Alejandro Valverde. Aged thirty-nine at time of writing, the Spaniard is the father figure at Movistar. In fact he could, biologically speaking, literally be the father of at least a third of his teammates.
Responsible for showing his young protégés the ropes having first dished out their weekly pocket money, passed on some worldly advice about plumbing, and attempted an awkward conversation about the importance of consent in the #metoo generation.
What was he up to towards the end of the ’90’s when all these young whipper-snappers were being born, I hear you ask?
Is it really possible that, at the behest of the Spanish cycling authorities, who know a spot of promising DNA when they see it, Valverde was beavering away impregnating a series of willing, consenting ladies?
Did Eusebio Unzue embark on operation Kondo knowing that Valverde had, ahem…planted the seeds of renewal all those years ago?
When the riders, as all sportsmen are contractually obliged to do, refer to their teammates as like a family™ is it because they are, in fact, a family?
It also raises the prospect that upon retirement, if that ever actually happens, Valverde will be put out to stud. How you feel about that as a mental image is entirely your own business.
How Marie Kondo feels about this as an interpretation of her methods is currently unknown.
(Top Image: by tonan111 via deviantart.com CC)