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Nacer Bouhanni (FDJ) happy in red
Bouhanni and Démare both named
With just over one month until the Tour de France's Yorkshire Grand Depart, FDJ have announced a 13-rider long list for the race including its two top sprinters, Nacer Bouhanni and Arnaud Démare. Notable absentees from the list are four-time stage winner, Pierrick Fédrigo, and Kenny Elissonde who won atop the Angliru at last year's Vuelta a Espana.
Last year it was Bouhanni who was the protected sprinter at the Tour and 2014 was to be Démare's turn. Bouhanni, who is in the last year of his FDJ contract, won three stages and the points jersey at the Giro d'Italia and as a result is now being considered for La Grand Boucle, forcing FDJ to rethink its sprinting plans. Démare's contract was recently extended through to 2016.
The rivalry between the two sprinters has been acknowledged by both riders and the team manager Marc Madiot, although he is yet to decide on taking one of the two riders or both.
Deciding against taking Bouhanni may be the deciding factor in the 23-year-old moving to one of the "several teams who want Bouhanni."
While the team will look for success in the sprint stages, Démare is confident he can beat Mark Cavendish, FDJ is also backing Thibaut Pinot for a high overall classification placing.
The final decision on the nine-man team for the Tour will made after the Critérium du Dauphiné (June 8-15), the Tour de Suisse (June 14-22) and before the French national championships (June 29), where Arthur Vichot will defend the tricolore jersey that he won last year.
FDJ long-list for the 2014 Tour de France: William Bonnet, Nacer Bouhanni, Mickaël Delage, Arnaud Démare, Alexandre Geniez, Jeannesson Arnold, Matthew Ladagnous, Francis Mourey, Yoann Offredo, Cédric Pineau, Thibaut Pinot, Jérémy Roy and Arthur Vichot.