22 Teams will start the Tour de France and in advance of previews for the yellow and green jerseys here’s a wider look at the other teams and riders in the race, this time on a team by team basis.
Lotto-Jumbo were the first to announce their eight riders for the Tour, deploying a lottery pick theme to reveal them one by one, disappointingly without the soundtrack of the Amazing Stroopwafel’s “Ik ga naar Frankrijk“. Eight riders, one fewer than last year and a significant change to notice. The Dutch squad is one of several with dual ambitions: they bring a sprinter in Dylan Groenewegen and have ambitions for the GC with Steven Kruijswijk and Primož Roglič. Groenewegen’s still not sprint A list but this is only a matter of time, possibly days and if he’s had a tendency to push a huge gear in the sprints he now seems on top of it and as he showed last year he can go all the way to Paris. He’ll have to cope with a reduced support but this is ok, he can count on the hulking Amund Grøndahl Jansen for a leadout and other teams like Quick Step and Dimension Data to toil and bring the breakaways back. Kruijswijk almost won the Giro but only has two pro wins to his name and in danger of being the subject of one of Het is Koers’s Vergeten Wielrenners, “forgotten riders” posts but he’s notionally their captain. But what about Roglič? He’s what the Australian’s call a “smokey” and any smokier and he’d be coughing in a jazz café. He’s having a great season and has won the last three stage races he’s entered, his home tour of Slovenia which sounds obvious but previously Romandie and the Tour of the Basque Country and in some manner. He could parry anything Egan Bernal tried in Romandie and Pais Vasco is the stage racer’s stage race, the win achieved when all his team mates had abandoned the race. On top of this Robert Gesink is there for stage hunting, fingers crossed. He had Lilian Calmejane in his sights for the stage win last year only to get cramps but if this sounds unlucky the next day he crashed going up the first climb out of Nantua and broke his back.
ROGLIC Primoz, KRUIJSWIJK Steven, MARTENS Paul, ROOSEN Timo, GROENEWEGEN Dylan,
JANSEN Amund Grondahl, GESINK Robert, TOLHOEK Antwan
- Goal: stage wins with Groenwegen in the opening week, well into the top-10 overall for Roglič
- Ace: Groenwegen is on his way to becoming sprint royalty
- Joker: Roglič
Ag2r La Mondiale are one of three World Tour teams without a win in the World Tour this year. It’s all about Romain Bardet and getting him on the podium again. He’s done it before, a coup d’audace in 2016, last year his coup de pédale in the mountains where he was climbing better than Chris Froome. It’s a proven strategy but a brittle one too, one hiccup for Bardet and the team will feel like seven orphans. But the riders are there to prevent these contre coups. Take Oliver Naesen who can shepherd Bardet over the cobbles and in the crosswinds and was instrumental last year in closing a gap late on Stage 16 last year when Bardet was caught out, towing the Frenchman and dropping him into place like a Tetris ace which was a big part of securing the podium finish. Silvan Dillier brings weight and expertise for the team time trial and the likes of Pierre Latour and Alexis Vuillermoz will lead for Bardet in the mountains. A year ago Ag2r were the only team taking the fight direct to Team Sky in the mountains, a rival train. Update: Frank is a late replacement for Geniez, Ag2r bring in a “diesel” climber but lose a versatile rider in Geniez, strong on the climbs but powerful on the flat too.
FRANK Mathias, NAESEN Oliver, VUILLERMOZ Alexis, GALLOPIN Tony, BARDET Romain, LATOUR Pierre, DOMONT Axel, DILLIER Silvan
- Goal: A stage win and podium finish for Bardet
- Ace: Bardet can climb and descend and has the French media delecting his quotes
- Joker: Latour, a jester who speaks to his legs and has a craving for Cruesli
Lotto-Soudal line up with two prime options. André Greipel is their house sprinter and he’ll turn 36 in July but still has winning ways, it was only two years ago he was so prolific. Still the competition is fierce so the team can hope for wins elsewhere with Thomas de Gendt the obvious pick for some breakaway stages but a word of caution, those hilly days he might have in mind are also when Peter Sagan needs to score points for the green jersey when other sprinters cannot so the fight to get in the breakaway could be even fiercer. There are more options, Jelle Vanendert is a stage winner in 2011 and Tiesj Benoot could strike, he has tried for the cobbled classics because he’s Flemish but if he was called Tieto Benotto or Thierry Benoît he might be more orientated towards hillier races suited to his lighter build.
BENOOT Tiesj, DE BUYST Jasper, DE GENDT Thomas, GREIPEL André, KEUKELEIRE Jens, VANENDERT Jelle, MARCZYNSKI Tomasz, SIEBERG Marcel
- Goal: a stage win, ideally with Greipel and then another from a breakaway
- Ace: a hard pick as the team is more solid than sizzling but Greipel’s their strongest card
- Joker: we expected the Schlecks, Evans or Contador but Vanendert won at the Plateau de Beille and has done little ever since and looked like a meteor who briefly burned bright but could he be a comet instead, he had a good Ardennes campaign this year
Groupama-FDJ won a stage with Arnaud Démare last year only for him to abandon before the race reached the Alps, taking several riders with him. Full marks for loyalty but it showed how the team has few riders capable of delivering big results. They’re back with Démare and a train in his service. With Thibaut Pinot recovering from pneumonia from the Giro Démare the prime leader with Arthur Vichot as a joker for hillier days. As we saw in the Tour de Suisse Vichot seems to have got his mojo back but transforming this into wins is another matter. The team bring David Gaudu, he of the 90 Vo2 Max and big French hope, but so far still an apprentice. Rudy Molard who picked off a stage win in Paris-Nice and should be good for a mountain breakaway. What’s of interest is also behind the scenes, the arrival of new sponsor Groupama brings beaucoup cash and so the team should be recruiting.
DÉMARE Arnaud, GAUDU David, GUARNIERI Jacopo, LE GAC Olivier, LUDVIGSSON Tobias, MOLARD Rudy, SINKELDAM Ramon, VICHOT Arthur
- Goal: a stage win
- Ace: Arnaud Démare is more of a classics roadman sprinter than a pure sprinter but give him a long stage, a hard drag uphill to the line and he can win one
- Joker: Gaudu seems to be in because Pinot is out… but Pinot was a late pick in 2012 and took a memorable stage
Movistar bring the trident, a triple pronged attack of Alejandro Valverde, Mikel Landa and Nairo Quintana. A sizeable proportion of worldwide downstream bandwidth has been written about this so there’s not much more to add beyond three observations. First Movistar are a cohesive team so if anyone can pull off multiple leadership, they can and this tactic is something to celebrate rather than hold up with a magnifying glass to observe for cracks. Second the road will decide, Quintana looks the best on paper but if, say, he loses minutes over the cobbles then he’s no longer the sharpest prong of El Tridente. Third Movistar are traditionally a tactically conservative team so even with three leaders primed for attacks don’t expect audacity. If we’ve got the trident then Marc Soler is the net, the rider tasked with containing rival moves.
AMADOR Andrey, BENNATI Daniele, ERVITI Imanol, LANDA Mikel, QUINTANA Nairo, ROJAS José Joaquín, SOLER Marc, VALVERDE Alejandro
- Goal: the team prize? Just joking, the win is the big goal and there should be a mountain stage or two
- Ace: say what you like about Alejandro Valverde (although this blog offers no safe harbour for libellous statements) but he’s like whisky, he seems to improve with age and plays a big role on the team as a captain
- Joker: Landa, he’s best when he’s not the obvious leader but has room to attack
Quick Step have 43 wins and look set to add to this. Bob Jungels could be a GC contender one day but so far he’s not climbing fast enough to be in front group, he can aim to place high and take stages. The team’s big hope is Fernando Gaviria, winner of four stages and the points competition in the Giro last year and versatile to contend for the green jersey in the Tour. But first a stage win; he left Switzerland empty handed. Tim Declerq won’t hit the headlines, he’ll hit the front of the bunch and be one of the unsung workers of the race as he contains the day’s breakaway for Gaviria while Max Richeze is the lead out rider but there’s not much more of a train unless Niki Terpstra and Yves Lampaert are roped in. Otherwise Julian Alaphilippe and Philippe Gilbert will hunt for stages with Alaphilippe very likely to get something if he can stay crafty like he did in the Dauphiné rather than the restless legs ride in Paris-Nice.
TERPSTRA Niki, LAMPAERT Yves, GILBERT Philippe, GAVIRIA Fernando, JUNGELS Bob, ALAPHILIPPE Julian, RICHEZE Ariel Maximiliano, DECLERCQ Tim
- Goal: stage wins galore
- Ace: Fernando Gaviria, but can he handle the pressure and deliver?
- Joker: Julian Alaphilippe for stage wins but will he try to hang on for a decent position on GC?
Wanty-Groupe Gobert: every year the Tour de France invites four teams from cycling’s second division, the Pro Continental circuit and to be blunt WGG were surely the last team to make the cut. This isn’t a slight, they’re simply a low budget Belgian team scratching around for wins and sponsors which explains their jersey looks like a textile version of Shinjuku. So if you like the underdog, these guys are your puppies and for them just starting the Tour de France is the biggest win of the season. One reason they got the wildcard is a talented Frenchman – take note Mr Delaney – Guillaume Martin, a good climber but still an outsider for a stage win while Yoann Offredo is a media magnet too, a career in TV might await. Ambitions are modest, the press release announcing their eight said Timothy Dupont was picked to help win the team prize on a sprint stage, they will hope that by finishing, say, 8th, 12th and 14th they can win the day’s team prize.
DEGAND Thomas, DUPONT Timothy, MARTIN Guillaume, MINNAARD Marco, OFFREDO Yoann, PASQUALON Andrea, SMITH Dion, VAN KEIRSBULCK Guillaume
- Goal: to be visible in the race
- Ace: Guillaume Martin is the playwright with a masters in philosophy but longs to be the Tour stage winner
- Joker: Andrea Pasqualon, handy in the uphill finishes, he’s just won the Tour of Luxembourg
Starlist over at procyclingstats.com