Orica-GreenEdge's Simon Gerrans identifies target stages
Speaking at the team's pre-race press conference, the Milan-San Remo champion said he anticipated assisting Matt Goss's green jersey campaign until the GC settled down and the baroudeurs rose to prominence.
"I'll be doing what I can to help the sprinters out in the first part of the race," said the 30-year-old, "but I think myself and [team-mate] Michael Albasini's days will come once the GC settles down a bit and like there's a bit more opportunistic riding."
Gerrans's Tour highlight came on stage 15 in 2008 when he spent a day in the breakaway and then outsprinted two companions to take victory in a cross-border stage into Prato Nevoso, Italy.
Gerrans added that the team had reconnoitred several stages finishes.
"There's a good bunch of guys in this team who are more than capable of winning a stage at the Tour de France but will continue helping Matt with sprint stages while he chasing the green jersey."
Asked which stages he was targeting, Gerrans said: "Most people will be able to work out which are the medium mountain stages and those which suit the objectives of the team."
Therefore likely stages for Gerrans to shine include the jagged road between Belfort and Porrentruy – another cross-border foray, this time into Switzerland – on stage 8, and stage 14 between Limoux and Foix in the foothills of the Pyrenees. SD
Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank go gourmet
Bjarne Riis says that Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank won't be the "strongest team in the world" but at least we know that they're eating well.
Team Chef Hannah Grant updated her regular blog with what the team fuelled themselves with on the eve of the 2012 Tour and well, Cyclingnews started to feel a little hungry.
Breakfast consisted of a soaked muesli with fresh berries. Lunch was spectacular - thinly sliced cold veal with parmesan and rucola; quinoa, with lemon chicken and tomato; green leafs with carrot ribbons, cucumber and sprouts, served with chicken in coriander dressing, sourdough bread and fresh fruit. Dinner was baked cod fish with dill; chicken with fresh corn and spring onions; salad of avocado, cherry tomato and mozzarella; caramelized fennel and balsamic raddichio; tomato sauce and whole grain pasta; fresh fruit and sourdough bread. Sounds delicious!
Grant explained that the team had a meeting to discuss some of the foods they would like once the racing gets underway and was very happy with the result.
"This is a great group, everyone likes every thing – the joy of a chef!" she wrote.
Team Sky continue with Pinarello
Italian manufacturer Pinarello has extended its current agreement with Team Sky for another year, taking their arrangement through until the end of 2013.
The sponsorship extension was announced on the eve of this year's Tour with the team set to ride Dogma 2 road bikes and the Graal time trial machine.
"Pinarello and Team Sky have worked closely together to develop our bikes and we're proud to have played a part in Team Sky becoming the best team in the world. 2012 has been a great season so far but there is so much more to come in the near and long-term future," said President of Cicli Pinarello Fausto Pinarello in a Team Sky press release.
"We're already working hard to ensure Team Sky will again have the best bikes in the peloton in 2013."
Guercilena replaces Bruyneel
RadioShack-Nissan team director Luca Guercilena was not expecting to be at this year's Tour de France, instead concentrating on preparing his riders for the Olympic Games. He was a late call up following the absence of Johan Bruyneel who decided to stay away from the race after being embroiled in a possible doping case with the US Anti Doping Agency (USADA).
"I am happy to be here because now I can follow even better our riders who are going to London," explained the Italian on the team website. "It is a nice experience. I've already done five Tours, so I know what to expect. On the other hand I still have a long and hard second part of the year, but that's part of the job. After the Olympics I will do the Vuelta, the World Championships and the final races in Italy but I enjoy my job a lot. We have a nice group of people with whom I enjoy working."
While Frank Schleck has warned not to expect too much from his own performance at the Tour, Guercilena believes that the team still has something to offer for the general classification.
"The overall classification could be something for us as we have three, four guys ready to be there every day in the mountains," he said. "We are not the biggest in terms of favorites but in cycling surprises are allowed. So not being in the spotlight can help us to arrive more relaxed in the mountains. Our climbers can be capable of surprising then. Watch us!"