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Vacansoleil-DCM will look for stage wins in the Tour de France, naming a team of mixed riders when it announced its line-up for the Tour de France on Thursday morning. The nine-man squad ranges from 35-year-old Juan Antonio Flecha, riding his tenth Tour, to debutante 19-year-old Danny van Poppel, who will target the sprint stages.
Five Dutch riders are in the line-up: Wout Poels, Johnny Hoogerland, Lieuwe Westra, Boy van Poppel and Danny van Poppel. Thomas De Gendt, Kris Boeckmans, Flecha and Sergey Lagutin round out the squad.
Hoogerland wore the mountain jersey in the 2011 Tour, after he and Flecha, then riding for Team Sky, were struck by a television car. He suffered a serious training crash in February, and has only been racing since the end of April. Poels is also making a comeback from a serious crash at last year's Tour.
“The Dutch World Tour-team has always been about a surprising, passionate and attractive style of racing. That is exactly how the squad hopes to pick up a stage win in France’s national tour” the team's press release said. “This does not mean that they’ll be forgetting all about the GC.” The team will look to both Poels and De Gendt, who finished third in the 2012 Giro d'Italia.
The biggest surprise in the team is the presence of Danny van Poppel, who is just 19 years-old and will be the youngest rider in the Tour since World War II. He will turn 20 on July 26, less than a week after the race ends.
“Danny van Poppel making the team is probably the biggest surprise for outsiders," directeur sportif Aart Vierhouten said. “I have witnessed every time that when he rises through the ranks it does not affect him much at all.
"That has proven to be the case now that he’s joined the pros where he has already made it up to the podium quite a few times. Nineteen is young, but luckily that is not a problem in the Tour today. The young kids they are able to connect, where this was impossible ten years ago.”
Team Vacansoleil-DCM for the 100th edition of the Tour de France: Kris Boeckmans, Juan Antonio Flecha, Thomas De Gendt, Johnny Hoogerland, Sergey Lagutin, Wout Poels, Boy van Poppel, Danny van Poppel, Lieuwe Westra.