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Lars Ytting Bak (HTC-Highroad)
Danes up for last spots on Tour squad
A Dane seems likely to ride the Tour de France this year for HTC-Highroad. Sport director Brian Holm said that Lars Bak and Alex Rasmusen each have about a 50-50 chance to grab one of the last two spots on the squad.
HTC is expected to be led in the Tour by sprinter Mark Cavendish, who will be accompanied by helpers Matthew Goss, Mark Renshaw and Bernhard Eisel. The team will pin its GC hopes on Tony Martin, with the help of Tejay Van Garderen and Peter Velits, who last year finished third overall in the Vuelta a Espana.
That would leave two spots on the squad still to be filled, with Bert Grabsch, Danny Pate, Michael Albasini, Martin Velits and Hayden Roulston going up against the two Danish riders.
"As it looks right now, there are two vacant spaces, and it is tor hem, Lars and Alex, to fight for,” Holm told politiken.dk.
"Lars has gradually carved out a strong position on the team and I would estimate his chances of joining the Tour to be around 55 percent. Alex I estimate a little lower, maybe 48 percent, but I definitely sensed that he is much stronger for his efforts both in the Giro d'Italia and his victory on Sunday in Philadelphia.”
Bak, 31, joined the US-based team last year after five years with CSC/Saxo Bank. Rasmussen, 26, also came over from the Danish team and recently won the Philadelphia International Championship race, shortly after having finished the Giro d'Italia.
"There is no doubt that he has strengthened his image quite tremendously by making it through three weeks of hardships and then immediately after that being able to deliver a top result,” Holm said. "In any case, it would surprise me if we do not have at least one Dane with us when we go to France.”
Both Bank and Rasmussen will ride the Ster ZLM Toer this coming week. The team will probably decide the Tour line-up after the Tour de Suisse, Holm said.