Following reports in Norway that Alexander Kristoff would be without compatriot and key lead-out man Michael Mørkøv, Katusha-Alpecin has formalized its nine-rider line-up that will head to Dusseldorf for the start of the Tour de France on July 1.
Katusha-Alpecin opted for a mixed team in its final selection, which it announced on Wednesday afternoon.
Kristoff will focus on the sprints and have support from Marco Haller, Reto Hollenstein and Rick Zabel, who will make his Tour de France debut, 20 years after being held up by his father Erik on the podium in Paris. Kristoff revealed that he was not consulted about the Katusha-Alpecin line-up, but told Norwegian television he was on form and ready for the sprints at the Tour de France.
He was openly criticised by the Katusha-Alpecin team management after a disappointing spring Classics campaign and has been linked with several other teams for 2018. He finished second on stage 2 of the Criterium du Dauphine but quit the race on stage 5 before the final mountain stages.
Katusha-Alpecin will hope that Tony Martin can win the opening 14km time trial in Dusseldorf and so secure the first yellow jersey of the 2017 Tour de France. Martin, who is the current time trial world champion, finished second to Richie Porte (BMC) in the recent 24km time trial at the Criterium du Dauphine but has built his season around the more technical Dusseldorf stage. With Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) a confirmed absentee and Rohan Dennis (BMC) also seemingly likely to miss the Tour, Martin will be the huge favourite to strike first in this year’s Grand Boucle.
Robert Kiserlowvski, Maurits Lammertink, Nils Politt and veteran Tiago Machado compete the Katusha-Alpecin roster for the Tour de France.
Recent Tour de Suisse winner Simon Spilak is not part of the team, nor is Ilnur Zakarin, who finished fifth at the Giro d’Italia. Spilak will target the Tour de Pologne, while Zakarin is set to return to Grand Tour racing at the Vuelta a Espana.