Tour de France: Meintjes and Rui Costa headline Lampre-Merida team

Tsgabu Grmay among three debutants in line-up

Louis Meintjes and Rui Costa will lead Lampre-Merida at the Tour de France. The youthful squad features three Tour debutants, including Tsgabu Grmay, who will become the first Ethiopian to participate in the race.

Meintjes made his Tour debut last year but was forced out by gastroenteritis after impressing in the Pyrenees. The South African went on to complete the Vuelta a España in tenth place overall and showed his form with ninth place at the recent Critérium du Dauphiné.

After focusing on the general classification – and abandoning – at each of the past two Tours, Rui Costa looks set to focus on chasing stage victories rather than a high overall finish in Paris. The former world champion has enjoyed a consistent if unspectacular 2016 to date, placing third at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and seventh at the Tour de Suisse.

Tsgabu, an aggressive presence at the Dauphiné, is one of three debutants in the team along with the Slovenian pairing of Jan Polanc and Luka Pibernik. Polanc soloed to stage victory at Abetone during last year’s Giro d’Italia.

The Lampre squad is rounded out by Yukiya Arashiro, Kristijan Durasek and the Italian duo of Matteo Bono and Davide Cimolai, making for an average age of 26.6. Arashiro, who joined from Europcar this season, missed much of the spring after fracturing his femur at the Tour of Qatar but he returned to claim a stage win at the Tour of Japan and he completed the Tour de Suisse. Mattia Cattaneo and Mario Costa have been named as reserves.

In 2015, Lampre claimed its first Tour stage in five years through Ruben Plaza, who left the team for Orica-GreenEdge during the off-season. The 2016 Tour gets underway in Mont-Saint-Michel on July 2.

Lampre-Merida for the Tour de France: Louis Meintjes (RSA), Rui Costa (Por), Tsgabu Grmay (Eth), Jan Polanc (Slo), Luka Pibernik (Slo), Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn), Kristijan Durasek (Cro), Matteo Bono (Ita) and Davide Cimolai (Ita).

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