Frank and Pantano leading lights for IAM Cycling in final Tour de France appearance

Swiss team will prioritize stage wins over general classification

IAM Cycling has named Mathias Frank as leader for the Tour de France, with Jarlinson Pantano and Jérôme Coppel also included in the line-up for the Swiss team’s final appearance at La Grande Boucle.

Frank placed 8th overall at last year’s Tour but has endured a low-key 2016 season to date and was forced out of last week’s Tour de Suisse through illness. “IAM Cycling has confidence in Mathias Frank to perform well in the general [classification], but the team will prioritize getting a stage win in the Tour de France,” directeur sportif Rik Verbrugghe said.

Pantano stepped into the role of leader in the closing days of the Tour de Suisse and went on to finish fourth overall after claiming a fine stage victory on the final leg to Davos, though the Colombian said afterwards that he would ride in the service of Frank in July.

Coppel finished 14th at the 2011 Tour de France but has downscaled his general classification ambitions in recent years and the Frenchman will target stage wins. Dries Devenyns, winner of the Tour of Belgium last month, is included in the line-up, along with fellow Belgian Oliver Naesen.

Martin Elmiger, who won the best Swiss rider classification at the Tour de Suisse, as well as his fellow countryman Reto Hollenstein are also in the squad, together with Stef Clement and Sondre Holst Enger.

“The sports management at IAM Cycling has attempted to bring together the best team possible for the most important race of the season,” Verbrugghe said. “Considering our experience, we tried to balance our strengths for three weeks of truth.”

IAM Cycling founder Michel Thétaz confirmed last month that the team would cease operations at the end of the season, citing difficulties in finding a co-sponsor. The team entered the professional peloton in 2013 and was elevated to WorldTour level at the beginning of last season. IAM Cycling has competed in each of the past two Tours de France, but has not managed to land a stage win.

This year’s Tour gets underway in Mont-Saint-Michel on July 2 and IAM Cycling has proposed a novel way of bringing its riders to the Grand Départ. After assembling in Paris, the team will travel by bus to Caen, before mounting their bikes to ride the remainder of the way to their hotel in Saint-Lô.

IAM Cycling team for the Tour de France: Jérôme Coppel (Fra), Stef Clement (Ned), Dries Devenyns (Bel), Martin Elmiger (Swi), Mathias Frank (Swi), Reto Hollenstein (Swi), Sondre Holst Enger (Nor), Oliver Naesen (Bel), Jarlinson Pantano (Col)

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