Seven of nine riders return from successful 2012 line-up
Belgian WorldTour squad Lotto Belisol announced its Tour de France selections today and as expected the team will be led by overall podium hopeful Jurgen Van den Broeck plus sprinter André Greipel.
Van den Broeck finished fourth overall at the 2012 Tour de France, equalling his result fro 2010, and this year the 30-year-old Belgian has focused his season on making the final podium in Paris.
Greipel enjoyed his most successful Tour ever in 2012, winning three stages and finishing second to Peter Sagan on the points classification, and the 30-year-old German will enjoy a dedicated lead-out train to deliver more stage wins in this year's edition.
"Considering that our core is almost identical to that of last year also our Tour selection doesn't differ much from previous editions," said team manager Marc Sergeant. "André Greipel and Jurgen Van den Broeck are still our main leaders. Last year the team proved it is possible to pursue two goals."
Van den Broeck has trained at altitude in the Sierra Nevada and has conducted extensive course recons of stages on Corsica, the Alps, the Pyrenees as well as the time trials. He began his season in Argentina at the Tour de San Luis, where he finished fifth overall, followed by second at the Vuelta a Andalucia, ninth at the Volta a Catalunya, seventh at the Tour de Romandie and 29th at the Critérium du Dauphiné. In early April he crashed out of the Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
"Jurgen Van den Broeck has brought only some small changes to his Tour preparation: the Tour de Romandie instead of the Walloon Classics, an extra week of rest after the Volta a Catalunya, Vuelta al País Vasco and the Tour de Romandie, but for the rest it was a passionate and meticulously drawn preparation just like the previous years. We know the cause of the two difficult days in the Dauphiné, but I think it was clear immediately that this hasn't affected his focus and goal. It's still his ultimate goal to make a bid for the Tour podium, but there aren't few candidates for a place in top ten. For our country it's a unique fact to have a rider who can have those kind of ambitions.
"Jurgen will be able to rely on the support of among other Bart De Clercq, who makes his début, and Frederik Willems. It's still only the third season as a pro for Bart and he's developing year after year as a rider for mountainous terrain. Frederik Willems had a difficult year in 2012 but showed the past few months that's he's back. Guys like Lars Bak and Adam Hansen are invaluable, as well for André as for Jurgen, and perform much invisible work."
Greipel's goal is to add to his overall tally of four Tour de France stage wins and with 10 victories already recorded this year the German and his sprint train are up for the task.
"André of course has his train to support him: Greg Henderson, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg," said Sergeant. "The past few months we worked on the automatisms, with a number of victories as a result, but at the start of the Tour all fast guys begin as equals. The competition is big but of course our goal is to lead André to a stage win."
Seven of the nine riders from the team's 2012 roster return, with De Clercq and Willems the new additions this go round. De Clercq, 26, will start the Tour de France for the first time, although he has two Giros and one Vuelta a Espana in his palmares with a 17th overall result at the 2012 Vuelta his best performance. The 33-year old Willems will make the ninth Grand Tour start of his career, and his fifth start in the Tour de France.
Lotto Belisol for the 100th edition of the Tour de France: Lars Bak, Bart De Clercq, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Jürgen Roelandts, Marcel Sieberg, Jurgen Van den Broeck and Frederik Willems.
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