Posted by: mdegeorge | July 2, 2011

Tour de France Preview: Part 2

The calendar has turned to July, which means barbeques, Wimbledon and the Tour de France.

It’s the latter that concerns me today, as 198 riders saddle up and take on perhaps the greatest challenge in sports: a three-week, nearly 3500-kilometer test of the human body and spirit. It’s the kind of multi-faceted, drama-wrought, ever-changing spectacle that fans and analysts live for, and it lasts for almost a month.

So without further ado, here are the full start lists for all 22 teams involved, including past data on the riders and a breakdown of what might be ahead for them.

In Part 2 are teams 8-14 on the start list:

AG2R La Mondiale

Maxime Bouet, Hubert Dupont, John Gadret, Sébastien Hinault, Blel Kadri, Sébastien Minard, Jean-Christophe Peraud, Christophe Riblon, Nicolas Roche

Tour de France stage wins: Riblon

Other Grand Tour stage wins: Gadret, Hinault

Grand Tour GC Top 10s: Gadret (4th in 2011 Giro); Roche (7th in 2010 Vuelta)

Days in Maillot Jaune: None

AG2R’s m.o. in the Tour is generally to get as many guys in breakaways as possible, maybe poach a stage or two, and if they’re lucky, increase their camera time with the odd Yellow Jersey from time to time a la Ricardo Nocentini in 2009. But this year, they have GC threats in Roche and Gadret, who finished 15th and 19th overall last season, respectively. There was some discord last season with Gadret allegedly refusing to help the then higher-placed Roche when the latter had a mechanical issue. As long as team harmony is restored, they could make some noise this year. Gadret won a stage in the Giro en route to a 4th place finish, and Roche finished 7th in his last Grant Tour, the 2010 Vuelta. The likes of Peraud, Riblon et al will continue to look for stage wins, but could soon find themselves doing heavy lifting for the team leader, whoever that turns out to be, in the high mountains.

Alexandre Vinokourov. Courtesy of Creative Commons.

Astana

Alexandre Vinokourov, Remy Di Gregorio, Dmitriy Fofonov, Andriy Grivko, Maxim Iglinskiy, Roman Kreuziger, Paolo Tiralongo, Tomas Vaitkus, Andrey Zeits

Tour de France stage wins: Vinokourov 4

Other Grand Tour stage wins: Vinokourov 4, Vaitkus

Grand Tour GC Top 10s: Vinokourov 4 (Won 2006 Vuelta, 3rd in 2003 Tour, 5th in 2005 Tour, 6th in 20010 Giro); Kreuziger 3 (9th in 2009 Tour, 9th in 2010 Tour, 6th in 2011 Giro); Tiralongo (9th in 2009 Vuelta)

Days in Maillot Jaune: None

This might as well be called Vino’s last ride. The 37-year-old could be mounting his last chance at that elusive Tour glory. He’s got stage wins at the Tour of the Basque Country and Tour de Romandie as well as 3rd on GC at Romandie. He’s got an excellent team behind him. But after the first few days in the mountains, it could be Kreuziger, a tremendous young talent whose finished 13th, 9th and 9th in his last three Grand Tours, who emerges as the leader, leaving Vino to run for stage wins as he has in the past. Any change in the GC picture could free up the likes of Di Gregorio – who won a stage in Paris-Nice this year – Grivko, Tiralongo and Fofonov to try and get into whatever breaks they can.

Quick Step

Tom Boonen, Sylvain Chavanel, Gerald Ciolek, Kevin De Weert, Dries Devenyns, Addy Engels, Jerome Pineau, Gert Steegmans, Niki Terpstra

Tour de France stage wins: Boonen 6, Chavanel 3, Steegmans 2

Other Grand Tour stage wins: Boonen 2, Ciolek, Pineau

Grand Tour GC Top 10s: None

Days in Maillot Jaune: Boonen 4 (Stages 3-6 in 2006); Chavanel 2 (Stage 2 and Stage 7 in 2010)

It’s been a few years since Boonen has been himself on a bike, thanks to injuries and drug problems. But this team is built around his ability to win stages in the springs once again. It is a thin field of sprinters that includes a number of talented by still maturing young riders that’s conducive for Boonen and his team of leadout men, including Ciolek and Steegmans. Boonen enters with two wins this season, a stage of the Tour of Qatar, one of his favorites, and a win at Gent-Wevelgem. The lack of a prologue reduces his chances at wearing yellow early, but he can still contend for the Green Jersey in the points classification, which he won in 2007. Chavanel, a rider whose worn yellow and won his fair share of stages, will likely be out in breaks from day 1, as will Tour veteran Pineau.

Team Sky

Bradley Wiggins, Geraint Thomas, Ben Swift, Juan Antonio Flecha, Rigoberto Urán, Xabier Zandio, Simon Gerrans, Edvald Boasson Hagen, Christian Knees

Tour de France stage wins: Flecha, Gerrans

Other Grand Tour stage wins: Boasson Hagen 2, Gerrans 2; Wiggins

Grand Tour GC Top 10s: Wiggins (4th in 2009 Tour)

Days in Maillot Jaune: None

Wiggins is in excellent form and has to be considered among the favorites. He proved himself in the mountains of the Dauphine-Libere, taking home the overall title. He’ll have some climbing help with the likes of Uran and Zandio, though this isn’t a team that has the muscle in the mountains to shepherd a rider into Yellow and help him defend it. The sprinting duties look likely to fall to Boasson Hagen, who enters with two wins on the season. But either Swift, who has three wins this season, or Thomas could also be up for those duties. If all else fails, there’s always guys like Gerrans and Flecha to get into groups on rolling stages and try to eke out wins.

FDJ

William Bonnet, Sandy Casar, Mickael Delage, Arnold Jeannesson, Gianni Meersman, Remi Pauriol, Anthony Roux, Jerome Roy and Artur Vichot.

Tour de France stage wins: Casar 3

Other Grand Tour stage wins: Roux

Grand Tour GC Top 10s: Casar (6th in 2006 Giro)

Days in Maillot Jaune: None

The youngest team in this Tour with an average age just under 26 boasts a single rider – Casar at 32 – on the downside of 30. The team selection here is somewhat perplexing. The veteran Casar is the undoubted leader and the rider in the side with the best credentials. But lacking from that squad is Pierrick Fedrigo, a three-time stage winner who made a big money move from Team Europcar (formerly BBox-Bouygues Telecom), and Yauheni Hutarovich, a young Belarusian sprinter who has come close to winning stages on several occasions and would benefit from the scarcity of sprinting talent in this field. That leaves FDJ with little concrete to offer beyond Casar. Casar will likely be the big GC hope – as has become a popular refrain, the lack of time trials aids him in that pursuit – but could instead look to grab stage wins as the race progresses. FDJ should get plenty of camera time on their home roads, populating the breaks as often as they possibly can. One to look for is Pauriol, who managed to take home the mountains classification at Paris-Nice and the Tour of the Mediterranean this year and could compete for the polka dot jersey.

Cadel Evans. Courtesy of Creative Commons.

BMC Racing

Brent Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Cadel Evans, George Hincapie, Amaël Moinard, Steve Morabito, Ivan Santaromita, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär

Tour de France stage wins: Hincapie 2, Evans, Burghardt

Other Grand Tour stage wins: Evans

Grand Tour GC Top 10s: Evans 7 (8th in 2005 Tour, 4th in 2006 Tour, 2nd in 2007 Tour, 2nd in 2008 Tour, 5th in 2010 Giro, 4th in 2007 Vuelta, 3rd in 2009 Vuelta)

Days in Maillot Jaune:  Evans 6 (Stages 10-14 in 2008, Stage 9 in 2010); Hincapie 2 (Stages 1-2 in 2006)

Much like RadioShack, BMC is putting all its eggs in the GC basket with former world champion Evans. Unlike RadioShack, however, BMC lacks a team to carry his championship aspirations. He’s had an excellent season, claiming the overall in Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie and second in the Dauphine-Libere. But his supporting cast is sparse. Bookwalter proved himself able to finish both the Giro and tour last season, but a heavier load will be placed on him this year. Hincapie, Burghardt, Morabito and Quinziato are veterans with varying degrees of usefulness in the mountains. But the team lacks a sprinter for stages that finishes in the pack. It looks like Bookwalter will have to be Hincapie’s last man, the trusted rider whose the last to leave him in the big mountain passes. That’s a bit much to ask for such a young rider to accompany a podium hopeful.

Cofidis

Julien El Fares, Samuel Dumoulin, Leonardo Duque, Tony Gallopin, David Moncoutie, Rein Taaramae, Tristan Valentin, Mickael Buffaz, Romain Zingle

Tour de France stage wins: Moncoutie 3, Dumoulin

Other Grand Tour stage wins: Moncoutie 3, Duque

Grand Tour GC Top 10s: Moncoutie (8th in 2008 Vuelta)

Days in Maillot Jaune: None

Taaramae will wear the leader’s jersey after the Estonian won the youth classification in both Criterium International and Paris-Nice this year, finishing 3rd and 4th overall, respectively, in addition to 8th overall in the Volta ao Algarve. But the bulk of the attention will be on a pair of French veterans in Moncoutie and Dumoulin. Moncoutie has three stage wins to his credit. He’s won the last three King of the Mountains jerseys in the Vuelta and could contend for one in France this season. Dumoulin also has tasted stage victory, and he’s likely to be a constant protagonist in lead groups throughout this race. He’s looking to build on a total of four wins this season, including two in the hilly Volta a Catalunya. Whether its those two or some of the team’s more inexperienced members, expect to see the red jerseys of Cofidis on the television screens early and often.

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