With the official start list available, the 22 teams of the the Tour de France are now confirmed. Here’s the list of each squad with info on the sponsors, bikes and some thoughts on what they might do in the race.
|Ag2r La Mondiale|
|Bikes||Kuota, SRAM, Reynolds|
Maxime Bouet (FRA), Mikael Chérel (FRA), Hubert Dupont (FRA), Sébastien Hinault (FRA), Blel Kadri (FRA), Sébastien Minard (FRA), Jean-Christophe Péraud (FRA), Christophe Riblon (FRA), Nicolas Roche (IRL).
Probably the weakest team in the UCI World Tour, the squad has been built with the aim of crossing the points threshold to stay in the top tier of 18 teams. But they have some stability and if the season has been quiet, one stage win in July will delight them. Riblon, Chérel and Kadri are strong riders for a breakaway whilst Roche will look to make the top-20 overall and Hubert Dupont is a proven climber. Péraud was a discreet top-10 last year but is playing catch-up with his form and has an eye on the Olympic mountain bike race.
Goal: a stage win.
Curiosity: those brown shorts are disturbingly transparent if you sit on the wheel of a rider.
|Sponsor||Oil supplier – Cycle components|
Marcel Kittel (GER), Roy Curvers (NED), Koen de Kort (NED), Johannes Frohlinger (GER), Patrick Gretsch (NED), Yan Huguet (FRA), Matthieu Sprick (FRA), Albert Timmer (NED), Tom Veelers (NED)
The idea is to set-up sprint sensation Marcel Kittel and the team is in his service. Gretsch is a good time triallist but his power will be put to use in the sprint train. The team has a wildcard invitation largely thanks to Kittel.
Goal: a stage win in the sprints.
Curiosity: Japanese company Shimano invests directly in this team and associates their name with the team. But the driving force behind this is the European arm of the company with its HQ in the Netherlands.
|Bikes||Specialized, SRAM, Corima|
Alexandre Vinokourov (KAZ), Janez Brajkovic (SLO), Borut Bozic (SLO), Dmitry Fofonov (KAZ), Andriy Grivko (UKR), Maxim Iglinskiy (KAZ), Andrey Kashechkin (KAZ), Fredrik Kessiakoff (SUE), Robert Kiserlovski (CRO)
Brajkovic is aiming for the top-10. The team has surprised several times this year whether in the spring classics or more recently when Kashechkin reappeared in the Dauphiné or when Kessiakoff won the final time trial of the Tour de Suisse, earning a Tour de France spot. Bozic specialises in uphill sprints. Team leader Vinokourov almost retired; once touted as a race winner it’ll be an accomplishment to finish.
Goal: stage wins and a high overall win
Curiosity: team captain Vinokourov was elected to the Kazakh parliament but has yet to take up his seat.
|Sponsor||Swiss bike frames|
|Bikes||BMC, Shimano, Easton|
Marcus Burghardt (ALL), Steve Cummings (GBR), Cadel Evans (AUS), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), George Hincapie (USA), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Schär (SUI), Tejay van Garderen (USA).
Evans wants to win and he has a dependable squad behind him although how they cope in the high mountains is a question. Gilbert has had a forgettable spring campaign but has a free role to win. Otherwise van Garderen is worth watching and Cummings is an unsung rider.
Goal: the overall win, stages and possibly the green jersey with Gilbert too
Curiosity: the team is sponsored by a bike brand but in reality the team is funded by a Swiss billionaire playing fantasy cycling for real.
|Bikes||Look, Shimano. FFWD|
Rémy Di Grégorio (FRA), Samuel Dumoulin (FRA), Nicolas Edet (FRA), Julien Fouchard (FRA), Jan Ghyselinck (BEL), Luis Angel Maté (ESP), David Moncoutié (FRA), Rein Taaramae (EST) et Romain Zingle (BEL).
The team manager was sacked earlier this week so it’ll be interesting to see how this team fares. But the tactics are simple: get in a break and win a stage. Veteran rider David Moncoutié is a minor legend and Rein Taaramae is aiming for the top-10 and the best young rider title. Maté is ideal for the breakaways and Dumoulin crafty in uphill sprints. Ghyselinck was perhaps the best amateur in Belgium but has yet to shine in the pros.
Goal: the best young rider jersey for Taaramae, visbility and a stage win
Curiosity: impressive longevity as Cofidis is one of the longest standing sponsors in the squad and Moncoutié has ridden with the team since its start in 1997.
Thomas Voeckler (FRA), Pierre Rolland (FRA), Christophe Kern (FRA), Cyril Gautier (FRA), Yukiya Arashiro (JAP), Giovanni Bernaudeau (FRA), Yohann Gène (FRA), Vincent Jérôme (FRA), Davide Malacarne (ITA).
They’d love to repeat last year when Voeckler wore yellow for half the race and finished fourth, whilst Pierre Rolland won the white jersey. I think this is impossible. Voeckler is recovering from injury and he won’t get so much room to escape. Rolland is a strong climber but this year’s route does not suit.
Goal: stage wins, roadside popularity and a high overall place for Pierre Rolland
Curiosity: Gène is from the French West Indies where cycling thrives
|Sponsor||Telecoms operator – Regional foundation|
|Bikes||Orbea, Shimano, Mavic|
Mikel Astarloza, Jorge Azanza, Gorka Izagirre, Egoi Martinez, Ruben Perez, Samuel Sanchez, Amets Txurruka, Pablo Urtasun, Gorka Verdugo
Samuel Sanchez is capable of winning mountain stage from the lead group of riders and a possible King of the Mountains winner. But the time trialling means he’s unlikely to stand on the podium in Paris, which is almost a good thing because we’ll see him on the attack even more. The team will be visible in the breakaways because of their tactics as well as the bright orange jerseys.
Goal: a stage win and perhaps the King of the Mountains jersey
Curiosity: the squad is part-funded by subscriptions from fans and the team rides local Orbea bikes that belong to Mondragon, a large workers co-operative.
|Sponsor||French state lottery – Building materials retailer|
Sandy Casar (FRA), Cédric Pineau (FRA), Pierrick Fédrigo (FRA), Matthieu Ladagnous (FRA), Jérémy Roy (FRA), Arthur Vichot (FRA), Thibaut Pinot (FRA), Anthony Roux (FRA), Yauheni Hutarovich (BLR).
Arguably the best French squad in the race FDJ will have greater ambitions than infiltrating the early breakaway and hoping to get lucky. Roy is a breakaway specialist in decent form, he can shape the race rather than follow it. Hutarovich is a second-tier sprinter but has a habit of big wins. Pinot is the youngest rider in the race and carries the burden of expectation as an impressive climber.
Goal: stage wins and TV air time.
Curiosity: as if the team’s tricolore kit isn’t enough, team boss Marc Madiot has a CD with the French national anthem that he plays during the team briefing every year on 14 July.
|Sponsor||GPS devices / consumer electronics|
|Bikes||Cevélo, Shimano, Mavic|
Tom Danielson (USA), Tyler Farrar (USA), Ryder Hesjedal (CAN), Robbie Hunter (AFS), Dan Martin (IRL), David Millar (GBR), Christian Vande Velde (USA), Johan Vansummeren (BEL), David Zabriskie (USA)
Hit or miss? With Danielson, Vande Velde and Martin the team could surprise on the overall and that’s before we consider Hesjedal. Farrar beat Cavendish for a stage last year. Millar, Zabriskie and Vansummeren will have their work cut out helping.
Goal: a high overall position, stage wins and having fun on the road.
Curiosity: Robbie Hunter is the first African stage winner in the Tour de France
|Bikes||Canyon, Shimano, Mavic|
Giampaolo Caruso (ITA), Oscar Freire (ESP), Vladimir Gusev (RUS), Joan Horrach (ESP), Aliaksandr Kuchynski (BLR), Denis Menchov (RUS), Luca Paolini (ITA), Yuriy Trofimov (RUS), Eduard Vorganov (RUS)
Menchov is aiming to win the race and the stealthy Russian could easily sneak on to the podium. But the rest of the team seems a mix and doesn’t offer him much support. Freire is always ready to surprise in the sprint whilst the others could take one of the hilly transition stages mid-way in the race.
Goal: a podium place with Menchov and at least one stage win.
Curiosity: the team are so curious you need to read this: Tinker, Tailor, Cyclist, Spy
|Sponsor||Steel manufacture / Steel producer|
Grega Bole (SLO), Danilo Hondo (ALL), Yuriy Krivtsov (FRA), Matthew Lloyd (AUS), Marco Marzano (ITA), Alessandro Petacchi (ITA), Michele Scarponi (ITA), Simone Stortoni (ITA), Davide Vigano (ITA)
Petacchi has been a prolific winner in the past but age is catching up and he wasn’t even selected to ride the Giro. Scarponi’s form is unknown after the Giro and Lloyd and Stortoni provide mountain backup. Bole is a former world military champion and tough enough to prove it. You sense the team is more interested in the Giro.
Goal: a stage win and visibility.
Curiosity: the boss of team sponsor ISD hired Jennifer Lopez to sing at his daughter’s wedding.
|Sponsor||Bottled gas / Bicycles|
|Bikes||Cannondale, SRAM, Mavic|
Vincenzo Nibali (ITA), Peter Sagan (SVQ), Ivan Basso (ITA), Daniel Oss (ITA), Kristijan Koren (SLO), Alessandro Vanotti (ITA), Sylwester Szmyd (POL), Federico Canuti (ITA), Dominik Nerz (ALL)
The Tour is Nibali’s stated goal of the year but I wonder if the route is a disadvantage. He can count on support from Basso and Szymd. The greater interest is in Peter Sagan, who is not a Slovak but a Fastvask. In theory he could win every stage in the opening week of the Tour. We’ll see.
Goal: a possible overall win and a sackful of stage wins
Curiosity: a big year for Nibali as he’s just moved to Switzerland, will married in October and should join Astana next year.
|Sponsor||Belgian state lottery / Windows and shutters|
Lars Bak (DEN), Francis De Greef (BEL), André Greipel (GER), Adam Hansen (AUS), Greg Henderson (NZL), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL), Marcel Sieberg (GER), Jurgen Van den Broeck (BEL), Jelle Vanendert(BEL).
Firing on two fronts, the team will be working to help Greipel win sprints, the German has 13 wins this year and sits alongside Peter Sagan as the most victorious rider so far in 2012. Van den Broeck could finish on the podium with consistent riding whilst Jelle Vanendert was a revelation last year, winning a stage in the Pyrenees after attacking from the front group.
Goal: stage wins in the sprints a a podium spot for Van den Broeck
Curiosity: Greipel is the most powerful man in cycling. At least when measured in watts, he hits 1850W during a sprint. No wonder his nickname is Der Gorilla.
Alejandro Valverde (ESP), Juan Jose Cobo (ESP), José Joaquin Rojas (ESP), Ruben Plaza (ESP), Vasil Kiryienka (BLR), Ivan Gutierrez (ESP), Imanol Erviti (ESP), Vladimir Karpets (RUS) et Rui Costa (POR).
A strong team on several levels. Valverde has yet to return to the levels of the past but a crash in the spring is partly to blame. He looked impressive in the Tour of Switzerland, a race ably won by his team mate Rui Costa who outclimbed Franck Schleck. Cobo won the Tour of Spain last year and reappears, he’ll be worth watching whilst Rojas is a strong sprinter for hilly days and Kiryienka is able to win a mountain stage if he’s not on team duty.
Goal: a high overall place for Valverde and stage wins in the mountains.
Curiosity: the longest surviving team in the sport. The sponsors have changed but the team structure has existed since the mid-1980s.
|Sponsor||Mining services company / Ryan family|
Baden Cooke (AUS), Brett Lancaster (AUS), Daryl Impey (AFS), Matthew Goss (AUS), Michael Albasini (SUI), Pieter Weening (HOL), Sebastian Langeveld (HOL), Simon Gerrans (AUS) et Stuart O’Grady (AUS).
Several sprinters come to help Goss but he’s not shown the speed needed to win this year, although consistent finishing could help him towards the green jersey. Albasini, Gerrans and Weening could win on hillier terrain.
Goal: stage wins in the sprints and from breakaways and maybe the green jersey
Curiosity: a final lap of France for O’Grady and Cooke, warriors from an older generation. The pair have more racing experience than half the peloton combined.
Laurens ten Dam (HOL), Robert Gesink (HOL), Steven Kruijswijk (HOL), Bauke Mollema (HOL), Mark Renshaw (AUS), Luis Leon Sanchez (ESP), Bram Tankink (HOL), Maarten Tjallingii (HOL), Maarten Wynants (BEL).
The team rides in support of Gesink with Kruijswijk and Mollema as able lieutenants in the mountains. Sanchez seems to win a stage every year whilst they’ll be visible in the sprints with Renshaw. They’ve not quite had the season they wanted but management have changed and it takes time to reform.
Goal: the podium with Gesink and at least one stage win.
Curiosity: the bearded ten Dam is a likeable rider who drives a Chevy truck around the Netherlands
|Sponsor||Electronics retailer / Auto manufacturer|
Fabian Cancellara (SUI), Tony Gallopin (FRA), Chris Horner (USA), Andreas Klöden (ALL), Maxime Monfort (BEL), Yaroslav Popovych (UKR), Frank Schleck (LUX), Jens Voigt (ALL), Haimar Zubeldia (ESP).
Problems swirl the team but once the racing begins things should change. Cancellara is an obvious pick for the prologue but could be a threat all week long. Meanwhile Horner, Klöden and Schleck all have aims for the overall.
Goal: a high overall position, a stage win and maybe Frank Schleck goes for the polka-dot jersey
Curiosity: Gallopin will find his uncle driving the team car whilst his girlfriend is the French national championne.
|Omega Pharma – Quickstep|
|Sponsor||Consumer parapharmaceuticals / Flooring|
Sylvain Chavanel (FRA), Kevin De Weert (BEL), Dries Devenyns (BEL), Bert Grabsch (ALL), Levi Leipheimer (USA), Tony Martin (ALL), Jerome Pineau (FRA), Martin Velits (SVQ), Peter Velits (SVQ)
The strongest team of the spring classics but with the depth to be a force in this race too. Martin has often got the better of Cancellara for the past two years and could win all three time trial stages. Chavanel will be all over the race like a rash, he wants the polka-dot jersey. The team’s overall hopes rest with Leipheimer, often a contender but prone to bad days. Also this looks like the first time twins have ridden the race, the might be identical but Peter Velits could crack the top-10.
Goal: stage wins on all terrain except the sprints plus a high overall position from Leipheimer
Curiosity: the team are one of several that will travel around France with a truck carrying mattresses so each of the riders gets a predictable bed to sleep on.
|Sponsor||Municipal water services / Health foods|
Jérôme Coppel (FRA), Anthony Delaplace (FRA), Jimmy Engoulvent (FRA), Fabrice Jeandesboz (FRA), Jean-Marc Marino (FRA), Julien Simon (FRA), Brice Feillu (FRA), Cyril Lemoine (FRA), Guillaume Levarlet (FRA).
The best French team so far this year, the aim is to place Coppel inside the top-10. They will also look for the breakaways whilst Julien Simon is a useful puncheur for uphill finishes.
Goal: visibility, a stage win and Coppel in the top-10.
Curiosity: Coppel lives in the Alps and spends much of the winter training… on skis.
|Saxo Bank – Tinkoff Bank|
|Sponsor||Money broker / Russian consumer credit|
Juan José Haedo (ARG), Jonathan Cantwell (AUS), Nick Nuyens (BEL), Chris Anker Sorensen (DAN), Nicki Sorensen (DAN), Michael Morkov (DAN), Anders Lund (DAN), Karsten Kroon (HOL), Sergio Paulinho (POR).
With Alberto Contador banned the squad is in search of a leader. Haedo can sprint fast and sometimes surprises the best whilst there are several expert stage poachers with Nuyens, both Sorensens and Kroon.
Goal: survival and maybe a stage win.
Curiosity: when Paulinho attacked in the 2004 Olympic Games road race only Paolo Bettini could follow. It was such a strong performance but he has yet to follow it up with any comparable result since.
Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR), Mark Cavendish (GBR), Bernhard Eisel (AUT), Chris Froome (GBR), Christian Knees (ALL), Richie Porte (AUS), Michael Rogers (AUS), Kanstantsin Siutsou (BLR), Bradley Wiggins (GBR)
The strongest team in the race? Probably and you’d think they’ll take the team prize in Paris thanks to a combo of Wiggins, Froome, Porte or Rogers. All this before last year’s double stage winner Boasson Hagen and of course Cavendish who took five stage wins and the bookmaker’s pick, Wiggins.
Goal: the overall, stage wins, the team prize and possibly the green jersey but I suspect the latter is asking for too much.
Curiosity: team director Sean Yates will drive the car in the race but you might spot him riding before the stage too. Once a powerful time trial rider and demon descender, he is almost as lean as the racer he was two decades ago.
|Sponsor||Campsite operator/Gardening materials|
Johnny Hoogerland (HOL), Lieuwe Westra (HOL), Wout Poels (HOL), Rob Ruijgh (HOL), Kris Boeckmans (HOL), Kenny Van Hummel (HOL), Gustav Erik Larsson (SUE), Marco Marcato (ITA), Rafael Valls (ESP)
Once a chaotic team the happy campers from Holland are a more coherent force these days. But they’re still happiest on the attack, especially Hoogerland, Marcato and Poels.
Goal: a stage win and the mountains jersey during the race.
Curiosity: Hoogerland had his 15 minutes of fame when he was rammed off the road by a car during the race last year. Legal action continues but hopefully he can make a name for riding and winning this time.