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Fox on the Box: Dysfunctional Movi stars throw a spanner into Grand ambitions

CYCLING takes the spotlight in Netflix’s The Least Expected Day which goes behind the scenes at Grand Tour heavyweights Movistar.

This stylish series offers unprecedented access into an elite sporting world of high drama and high emotion. From team breakfasts to briefings, little is left out.

Interviews with riders and bosses are frank, while team-car access gives a fascinating glimpse into the team’s tactics and tantrums.

One great example comes late on when young rider Marc Soler ignores orders and one race director attempts to dismantle his Volvo from the inside while driving and screaming ‘f***ing kid’ down the team radio.

In the first of six parts we join the team in confident mood as boss Eusebio Unzue sets out his plans for the 2019 season’s three major stage races; the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana. ‘We aim to take the lot,’ he says.

But triumphs are outweighed by disappointments as in-house rivalry and tension disrupt Unzue’s lofty ambitions.

Movistar boast a stellar line-up, including Alejandro Valverde (pictured), Nairo Quintana, Mikel Landa and Richard Carapaz, but from early on the signs are not good. Valverde struggles with the ‘curse’ of the rainbow jersey of world champion. ‘It’s a burden,’ he says. ‘The jersey has taken away the hunger for victory.’

A surprise win for the ambitious Carapaz at the Giro is a welcome boost but tension between co-leaders Landa and Quintana disrupt hopes at the Tour de France.

‘If they don’t resolve their differences, we have a problem,’ says Valverde and they do, with the pair finishing sixth and eighth.

Quintana reveals he is changing teams in 2020 during the Vuelta, as Valverde finishes second, and Soler goes rogue. Landa has already declared his intention to leave.

The series can be disjointed as it cuts back and forth but with cycling on hold, taken at a steady pace, The Least Expected Day is a thoroughly enjoyable ride.

@foxonthebox