With its GC hopeful, Christian Vande Velde, in uncertain form following serious injuries sustained in a crash in the Giro d'Italia, the Garmin-Slipstream team is sending a team of diverse talents to capitalize on any opportunity in this year's Tour de France.
Speaking with Cyclingnews on Thursday, manager Jonathan Vaughters gave some insight into how he and directeur sportif Matt White formulated this year's team.
"The final call was Matt's, but in this case we agreed on the line-up," said Vaughters. "We wanted to pick nine riders who would work well as a team, but we tried to diversify it more than if we were going in with a strict focus on supporting Christian for the GC."
The team will be able to support Vande Velde should he show the form that propelled him to a top five finish in last year's Tour, but will also focus on the bunch sprints with Delta Tour Zeeland winner Tyler Farrar and Kiwi Julian Dean.
"Time trials will also be a focus, but [Fabian] Cancellara is going pretty fast right now."
The team still has a good chance for the team time trial in Montpellier on stage four with US champion David Zabriskie, David Millar and Bradley Wiggins as engines, yet several of the squad's strong time trialists were left out of the line-up.
Canadian Svein Tuft is one rider who many would have been expecting to see on the roster as the world championship silver medalist would have brought more kick to the team time trial, but Vaughters said Tuft hasn't shown in recent weeks that he was ready for the Tour.
"Svein is going to have a great season, but he had some rough luck this year. We took him out of the Giro team because he was coming back from an injury, and then he had some rough luck in Catalunya and crashing in the long time trial at the Dauphine.
"He has tried so hard this year because it is his big chance, but he may have overtrained a bit. He's learned from it, and will be great for the Vuelta and the World Championships."
Continue to the full feature.