Dumoulin tempted by route with fewer summit finishes
After his breakthrough performance at this year's Vuelta a Espana, there is much excitement surrounding Tom Dumoulin's Grand Tour credentials for next year, and much interest in which of the three he decides to target. It may well be the biggest one of them all, as the Dutchman liked what he saw of the route for the 2016 Tour de France, which was unveiled in Paris on Tuesday.
"At first glance it seems like a good course for me, partly because of the limited number of uphill finishes," said Dumoulin, speaking to Dutch broadcaster ANP.
The Giro d'Italia, however, also boasts attractions for the 24-year-old with its three time trials and its gran partenza in the Netherlands. He could pull on the pink jersey on home soil after the opening 9.8km time trial in Apeldoorn, while the rolling 40km chrono in the Chianti vineyards is an ideal opportunity to put time into other general classification contenders.
"Rolling is always good for me, twisty-turny, rolly …that's how I like it," the Dutchman said in the wake of the 2016 Giro presentation earlier this month. But that could also apply to the Tour's 37km stage 13 time trial, which features uphill sections and plenty of bends. Dumoulin is set to study the routes in detail over the coming weeks before making a decision and drawing up a training and race schedule.
Van Avermaet eyeing yellow jersey
The Belgian won on a short, punchy uphill finish on stage 13 this year, and stage 2 of next year's race features a very similar parcours. With the first yellow jersey of the race likely to go to a sprinter after the flat opening road stage, Van Avermaet is hoping he can open a gap and take victory in Cherbourg-Octeville, where there are also 10 bonus seconds on the line for the winner.
"The second stage should be for me. There may be wind and the arrival, on paper, is for me, even if I have to look in more detail," he told Sporza.
"I want to get through the first stage and then hopefully win the second. This would then give me the chance to hang on to yellow."
Van Avermaet was sitting in the front row along with other star names on Tuesday as the route for the 2016 Tour de France was officially presented, something he described as "special". Aside from stage 2, he will have to wait for more detailed stage profiles before picking out which ones have the slightly uphill drags to the line that suit his characteristics, but he did point out he'd be particularly motivated for the stage finish across the border in Bern, Switzerland on stage 16.
"I do not know how all the finishes look and I hope that there is still a flat ride where the arrival is still slightly uphill. In addition, the stage to Bern is very important for our team with a Swiss sponsor. I must go to join the team to win."
Ochowicz prefers route to that of successful 2015
BMC manager Jim Ochowicz believes the 2016 Tour de France route suits his team better than this year's, despite the lack of a team time trial - the discipline in which they have been world champions two years in a row.
BMC won the TTT stage at this year's Tour and also took stage wins through Rohan Dennis and Greg Van Avermaet, though there was disappointment when Tejay van Garderen was forced to abandon when strongly-placed on GC. Ochowicz reckons the 2016 route will allow his team to achieve even greater success.
"I think it’s a good course for our team because it looks like it’s not going to start out too mountainous and we are going to get some flat stages, crosswinds - we like those types of races," he said at the route presentation in Paris on Tuesday.
"They’ll be sprint finishes but they’re good for splitting up the peloton and we can fight along the way and maybe gain some time. You don’t know but it looks good with a fast start then hitting the mountains directly in the Pyrenees which seems like it's one hard stage after another for the first ten days."
Asked about the lack of a team trial, Ochowicz claimed he wasn't overly disappointed. "We miss that but I can’t complain about that. If they decide to have them in races we take them, if they don’t then we have to live with that and we carry on," he said.
"For what we are thinking about in our roster it's a course one that fits us maybe better than this year’s Tour."
In terms of the roster, Ochowicz will have to think about how he will balance the ambitions of his two GC men Van Garderen and Richie Porte, both set to target the Tour next year.
The Cyclingnews podcast: Tour de France route analysis
This week's episode of the Cyclingnews team is all about the 2016 Tour de France. Cyclingnews' editor-in-chief Daniel Benson and news editor Sadhbh O'Shea were at the official presentation of the race in Paris on Tuesday, and they were joined by Het Nieuwsblad's Jan-Pieter de Vlieger to analyse the route to be covered by the 21 stages.
The team discuss and dissect the standout features and intricacies of a route that features two time trials - neither of which is flat - nine mountain stages, four summit finishes, and six sprint stages.
We also hear from 2015 champion Chris Froome, his team principal Dave Brailsford, and sprinter Mark Cavendish, who is looking to take the yellow jersey on the opening day - a road stage that looks set for a bunch sprint.
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