Greipel, De Gendt spearhead Lotto Soudal's Tour de France team

Roster designed to win stages

Lotto Soudal will head into the Tour de France with a team dedicated to winning stages. Spearheaded by veteran sprinter Andre Greipel and breakaway specialists Thomas de Gendt, the eight-man squad also includes one-day revelation Tiesj Benoot. As already announced, there is no place for Adam Hansen, who completed his 20th straight Grand Tour recently at the Giro d'Italia.

Jasper De Buyst, Jens Keukeleire, Marcel Sieberg, Tomasz Marczynski and Jelle Vanendert make up the rest of the team.

In a video posted on social media, the Tour de France team are selected by Marc Sergeant – although we only see his hands, and he sets up a Whatsapp group chat with the riders included. He then posts a congratulatory message before the video draws to a close. The video concludes before the two blue Whatsapp ticks appear, but it’s safe to assume that the riders already know whether they are in the Tour team or not.

Greipel, 35, has won 11 stages at the Tour de France but drew a blank in 2017. He has been in consistent form throughout this campaign, and despite suffering an injury earlier in the year, has won six races since the turn of the year. The German is out of contract at the end of the year, and during the Tour de Suisse was involved in a public spat with team manager Paul de Geyter with the pair clashing over contracts. Greipel will be able to rely on a strong lead-out for the Tour de France and despite his advancing years would be a good bet for at least one stage win.

De Gendt won a stage of the Tour de France in 2016 on the same day Chris Froome ran up Mont Ventoux. The 31-year-old Belgian took a stage win at the Tour de Romandie in April and took home both the KOM and Points competitions in the week-long race. He will target breaks in the mountains at the Tour de France, along with the transition stages, such as the ones to Mende and Carcassone in the second half of the race.

Benoot will be lining up for his second Tour de France, having placed 20th overall a year ago. The Belgian finished 14th at the Critérium du Dauphiné, took fourth at Tirreno-Adriatico in March and of course won Strade Bianche. He was a consistent performer in the Spring Classics, with further top tens in E3 Harelbeke, Dwars door Vlaanderen and the Tour of Flanders. He will be targeting stages in the first week with the stages to Quimper and the Mur de Bretagne both ideally suited to his skillset.

Jelle Vanendert won a Tour stage at Plateau de Beille in 2011 and will also be hunting stage wins. Tomasz Marczynski won two stages at last year's Vuelta a España.

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