Garmin-Cervelo and Leopard Trek have left it late, but both outfits have now named their outfits for the Tour de France following what, for the US team at least, turned out to be a very difficult selection process. From a British perspective, the big news there is that David Millar makes the cut.
The 34-year-old, who earlier this month published his autobiography, is one of a handful of riders not only to have won stages in all three Grand Tours – the Giro d’Italia, Vuelta and Tour de France – but also to have worn the leader’s jersey in them.
The team features three riders who can make an impact in the general classification, in the shape of American riders Christian Vande Velde, twice a top ten overall finisher in the race, Tom Danielson, who makes his Tour de France debut, and the Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, third last year.
World champion Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar provide options in the sprints, depending on the type of finish, with Julian Dean performing leadout duties. US time trial champion David Zabriskie and the Lithuanian rider Ramunas Navardauskas, who makes his Tour de France debut, round out the team.
Missing out, however, are Ireland’s Dan Martin, Britain’s Roger Hammond and Daniel Lloyd and, perhaps most surprisingly, 2009 Tour de France stage winner Heinrich Haussler – in fact, none of the team’s six Australians made the cut. Also losing out on a place in the team is Paris-Roubaix winner, ohan Van Summeren.
“We needed a team that could give us options in the overall but also for stage wins and with this squad, we have that,” explained Jonathan Vaughters, CEO of the team’s management company, Slipstream Sports.
“With such a strong team, and so many riders going so well all season, this was our most difficult Tour selection yet. When you have 15 or 18 riders capable of riding the Tour, it becomes difficult, and it’s hard to leave guys like Johan [Van Summeren] home. But I’m confident that we have found the right mix in this group, and I have absolute faith in these riders,” he added.
“It’s going to be an exciting Tour.”
Leopard Trek’s challenge is of course spearheaded by the Schleck brothers, backed by a strong supporting cast comprising Fabian Cancellara, Linus Gerdemann, Maxime Monfort, Jakob Fuglsang, Jens Voigt, Stuart O’Grady and Joost Posthuma.
Team manager Kim Andersen, speaking at the team’s presentation today in Luxembourg in front of hundreds of fans, said: “It is no secret that we go to the Tour to try to win it. We have high ambitions for this team. We will target the overall and possibly even win some stages on the way to Paris.”
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.