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Gent-Wevelgem: Tom Boonen (Quick Step) sprints to victory.
Boonen back for the sprints, Sanchez targets the podium
Quick Step and Euskaltel-Euskadi have revealed their nine-rider teams for the Tour de France, with the Belgian squad confirming Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel as leaders, while the Basque team hopes Samuel Sanchez can finally finish on the podium in Paris.
While Chavanel and fellow Frenchman Jerome Pineau will target the mountain stages and perhaps another spell in the yellow jersey for Quick Step, the like of Niki Terpstra will looking for stage victories on the hilly finishes, while Tom Boonen, Gerald Ciolek and Gert Steegmans will focus on the sprint finishes. Boonen was forced to miss last year's Tour de France due to a knee injury.
"We have a very competitive team for the Tour de France, that will be able to challenge everyone in every situation," directeur sportif Wilfried Peeters claimed.
“We start this Tour de France in the best possible conditions, both physically and mentally. The whole Tour offers good chances to shine for riders who attack like Chavanel, Pineau, Devenyns and Terpstra.”
“We will also have riders like Boonen, Ciolek and Steegmans who will be able to try and win sprints should the occasion arise. The team will also support De Weert on the most difficult stages. His main objective will be to try and further improve his overall placing compared to his last Tour de France.”
Sanchez targets the podium with Euskaltel-Euskadi
Euskaltel-Euskadi is riding the Tour de France for an eleventh consecutive year and will again target stage victories, especially close to their Basque home in the Pyrenees and the overall classification with Samuel Sanchez. He finished fourth last year, just 3:40 behind winner Alberto Contador and hopes to go one better.
Sánchez will be supported by Egoi Martínez, Gorka Verdugo, Amets Txurruka, Rubén Pérez, Iván Velasco, Alan Pérez, Pablo Urtasun and Gorka Izagirre. These last three are riding the Tour de France for the first time.
"Winning a stage is the big objective. Last year we went close and we can’t miss out this time. We know that the Tour will include the world's best riders but we have to aim for the podium. Last year we were very close with Samuel and we hope to do better this year," team manager Igor González de Galdeano said.
To prepare for the stage two team time trial, the Euskaltel-Euskadi riders will gather in Vitoria on Wednesday for special time trial training under Gonzalez de Galdeano’s watchful eye.