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One day after it was confirmed that Marcel Kittel will not compete in this year’s Tour de France, the lineup that Mark Cavendish and his team hope will bring him closer to Eddy Merckx’s all time Tour stage win record of 34 victories has been named.
The Etixx-QuickStep formation for the Tour is not just about the sprints, though; the inclusion of world champion Michal Kwiatkowski will give it options on more undulating stages, including stage three to the top of the Mur de Huy, while Rigobert Uran will be a general classification contender if he has recovered well enough from the Giro d’Italia.
Former world time trial champion Tony Martin also has the scope to shine, not least in the races against the clock. There are others too who may get to play their own cards and, with Michal Golas, Mark Renshaw, Zdenek Stybar, Matteo Trentin and Julien Vermote, the team is an impressive one.
“We are at the start of this Tour de France with a very talented and experienced team,” stated the Sport and Development Manager Rolf Aldag, who said there would be challenges throughout the race.
He noted the likely crosswinds early on with the stages beside the sea, and likes the look of those. “It’s no secret we have a team that is built for these kinds of efforts, so we are looking forward to this stage,” he stated.
“Then we move into Belgium. As a team based there, it is a key moment of Le Tour to show ourselves in front of our home public. We also have the day of the Mur de Huy finale, where we can play with several options. Then the day after, Stage 4 with the cobbles, it is another stage that suits our team perfectly, even if riding on a Classic parcours during the Tour de France is not exactly like riding the spring races.
“Of course, in cycling anything can happen during these stages, but we know we are as prepared as any team in the peloton to do well on the cobbled sectors.”
Aldag states the next stages will be for riders like Cavendish, and that he will have full team backing as a result. Then, after the Mûr-de-Bretagne finish – which could suit Kwiatkowski – the squad will tackle the team time trial. “We have tradition in this discipline, that’s why we consider it a important appointment on our road to Paris,” he stated, referring perhaps to the two world titles the team gathered in that discipline.
After the first rest day, Aldag makes clear that he expects the riders to keep chasing more results. “In the second part of Le Tour there are still some stages for the sprints, but also a lot of ground for climbers and attackers. We have options also in the mountains with a rider like Rigoberto Uran, but not only him.
“Riders such as Tony and Michal showed already in the past that every day they can invent something significant. We want to be consistent over the three weeks and try to be present on multiple levels. We want to be present in the stages, and why not, try to get the yellow jersey for a few days. Wearing that jersey even for few days is always a big achievement.”