Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank won't be sending “the strongest team in the world” to the start of the Tour de France in Liège on Saturday, but team owner Bjarne Riis says his team can be a “positive surprise”.
“I expect that maybe we can go out and surprise a bit. Now I've seen that people think we have a bad team. So we can only be a positive surprise,” he told the Ritzau news agency.
“I am as well aware that we do not have the strongest team in the whole world, but it does not mean that we can't do something,” he said, adding that the team is motivated to deliver results.
“It matters to me that we have great motivation and drive. We need at least to try.”
The team will look to Argentinean Juan Jose Haedo in the sprints. He will have a sprint train to support him “and then JJ can turn it on and take a chance. We make some top three spots or thereabouts – those count too.”
Riis knows that “anything can happen” in the mass sprint finishes. “We should try to fight. There be advantages and disadvantages, and perhaps all of a sudden we will have a chance.”
The team is going into the Tour without its top star but with a new name co-sponsor. Alberto Contador is still serving a doping-related suspension. Tinkoff Bank was announced earlier this week as the new co-sponsor.