Argos Shimano announce Tour de France long list

Pro Continental outfit Argos Shimano has named its long list for the Tour de France later this month, with Marcel Kittle set to make his debut at the grand boucle.

Absent from the list is John Degenkolb, who will attempt to keep his legs fresh for the Olympic Games in London.

"John has had a busy spring, riding almost all the spring classics and many stage races," explained team manager Iwan Spekenbrink. "At this point the Tour de France is too much for him. John is a talented rider, but still just 22. The Tour de France comes a year too early for him."

Degenkolb is in the German selection for the Olympics and wants to focus on that, the Vuelta a España and the World Championships in Valkenburg. He is looking forward to the rest of the season.

"I want to do well in those races," he said. "Next year however, I want to shine in the Tour de France. It will be my main goal. It is my dream to win the green jersey."

With one more win to his name than Degenkolb, it was little surprise that Kittel will be the team's sprint hope after victories at Etoile de Bessèges, the Tour of Oman, Driedaagse van De Panne and the Scheldeprijs. The 23-year-old has been open this season in admitting that he believes he can win at least one stage at the Tour.

Argos-Shimano was invited to the 2009 Tour de France when racing under the Skil-Shimano banner but missed out on wildcards in 2010 and 2011. The team rode last year's Vuelta a España, winning a stage with Marcel Kittel, and has enjoyed a solid beginning to the 2012 campaign. Argos Oil was unveiled as the team's new primary sponsor at a presentation in Rotterdam in April.

Argos-Shimano will announce the final selection on Tuesday June 19.

Argos-Shimano long list for the 2012 Tour de France: Marcel Kittel (Ger), Simon Geschke (Ger), Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger), Patrick Gretsch (Ger), Tom Veelers (Ned), Koen de Kort (Ned), Albert Timmer (Ned), Roy Curvers (Ned), Tom Stamsnijder (Ned), Alexandre Geniez (Fra), Yann Huguet (Fra), Thierry Hupond (Fra), Mathieu Sprick (Fra) and Bert De Backer (Bel).


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