TdF News: Teams Journey starts on stage


Tour de France news – Nibali says there are five favourites, Yates twins after stage wins whilst Dowsett says stage 1 win would be career defining

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TdF News: Teams Journey starts on stage

The Lepelenburg park and the nearby streets along the canals in the centre of Utrecht were crowded for the presentation of the twenty-two teams of the 2015 Tour de France. They lined up on stage for the traditional picture after an introduction by the mayor Jan van Zanen, event director Christian Prudhomme and the rock band Blaudzun.

Even the riders who were in doubt during the day attended the presentation. Pierre-Luc Périchon of Bretagne-Séché Environnement was down with food poisoning. FDJ’s Matthieu Ladagnous had missed the press conference in the afternoon because he was busy at the dental clinic. “It’s probably better that it happens here than a few days later during the race”, the Frenchman said.

Attending the teams presentation doesn’t mean starting the Tour. It happened to Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España and Paris-Nice stage winner Michael Matthews one year ago. “This time I’m not here with bandages after crashing”, he said with a large grin. “I’m ready to try and win a stage at the Tour too.”

One of his big rivals for the sprints, Alexander Kristoff, wasn’t sure he could make it on time for the pre-race event at all but as his second son Liam was born on June 23rd, ten days earlier than expected, he is.

Prior to sprinting, the stars of the Tour de France will be in action against the clock on the 13.8km flat course on Saturday. In that discipline, Tom Dumoulin feels how much Dutch fans expect him to win. “It would be cool to get the first yellow jersey, but I first need to remain focused on what I’m the best at”, the Giant-Alpecin time trialist stated. “I’m a bit nervous but I’m also very excited… and confident.”

Apart from Dumoulin and the nineteen other Dutch riders, there were big cheers for the four Tour hot favorites. Questioned by the media, defending champion Vincenzo Nibali added one more: “My main rivals are Alberto Contador, Chris Froome, Nairo Quintana and Romain Bardet”, he said, naming the French climber from AG2R-La Mondiale as well because of his performance at the Critérium du Dauphiné.

The Sicilian admitted that he also observed the battle between Contador and Quintana at the Route du Sud. “Mostly though I’ve worked specifically in order to arrive at the start of the Tour with the same shape as last year. I’ve won the Italian championship again. It’s a good sign, but we can’t compare two Tour de France events”.


Pic: ASO/B Bade – Nibali, Froome, Contador and Quintana

“There are cobblestones this year again but it’s more difficult than last year because of the false flat terrain. However, I also should get a stronger support with Lars Boom in my team”.

Meanwhile, another favourite said “Last year I hadn’t even seen the pavé”, echoed Chris Froome who was forced to pull out earlier after several crashes in the wet. “I’m hoping to get there this time.”

The riders certainly all looked happy and fired up by the event. “We’re getting an incredible support from the crowd here in Holland”, said Contador who is obviously impatient to start his assault to one more victorious Grand Tour. “I arrive in good shape. I have planned my training and rest and followed it very carefully and at this moment I think I have recovered well physically and also mentally, which could also be even more important”.

Also on stage were the Yates twins who spoke to the with Simon saying “There are only 21 tour stages a year, the sprinters take five of them. There’s only a slim chance of winning one. That is our aim. Whether it’s me, my brother, or someone else on the team who wins one, that will be a success for us.” Adam agrees saying “There’s not much point in me going for the general classification, the yellow jersey. If you finish 19th in the Tour, what is it? Who came 19th in the Tour last year? If you win a stage in the Tour de France, there’s a lot of prestige to that.”

Another Brit the country will be following, especially on stage 1 is Alex Dowsett. He told Sky Sports “Winning stage one and taking the yellow jersey would be career-defining. If that is all you had on your CV, you could be more than satisfied”.

The Essex boy added “Riding this year doesn’t really make up for missing last year. It will still be a monumental thing to have missed the UK start of the Tour de France, as it was so big. But if someone told me back when I was 13 that I would be starting the Tour de France, I think I would have laughed at them. It has been a major goal since turning pro.”

Another favourite for that first stage is Fabian Cancellera in his tenth Tour who on five occasions has taken the yellow jersey after the inaugural stage against the clock, whether it was a prologue or a time trial like this coming Saturday. “It was always out of France”, he noticed as an interesting omen. He did it twice in Liège, Belgium (in 2004 and 2012), London (2007), Monaco (2009) and Rotterdam (2010). “In cycling, it’s hard to predict the future but I’ve thought this could be my last Tour and my last opportunity to reach Paris”.



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