The Dutch team is riding its first Tour de France as a WorldTour team. Last year it secured a wild card invitation but made little impact. Ambitions are much higher this year. Kittel has already shown he can take on and beat the best sprinters in the world, winning Scheldeprijs, stages at the Tour of Oman, Paris-Nice, the Tour of Turkey and, most recently, at the Ster ZLM Toer.
Argos-Shimano will clash with Mark Cavendish’s Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad, Andre Greipel and his experienced Lotto Belisol lead-out team and Orica-GreenEdge, which is set to ride for Matt Goss in the Tour de France sprints.
“We will be looking for stage wins at this Tour de France and have lined up the strongest team possible to achieve this. In the flat stages, Marcel Kittel will be leading our team to sprint success,” said sports manager Christian Guiberteau in the official announcement from the team.
“When the bunch hits some of the hillier stages, we have Giro stage winner John Degenkolb who can be successful. We are also looking forward to seeing a strong sprint train.”
The Argos-Shimano Tour de France squad is working on perfecting its sprint lead-out and testing equipment at the Circuit Zandvoort in northern Holland today.
“Creating the perfect sprint train takes years. The key to our train is the combination of science and experience. All the team members can anticipate a situation very well and have the experience to handle all possible scenarios,” Guiberteau said.
“Extensive evaluations post-race makes the difference, together with the best equipment, specific training plans and scientific experts who provide us with unique and useful data about the riders and individual race courses.
“Tom Veelers and Koen de Kort will be the most important lead-out men for the sprint stages. Veelers has a big engine in the last 500m but his true additional value is that he knows and feels what a sprinter knows and feels. De Kort will be important for Degenkolb in the hillier stages, and we expect him to be aiming for the breaks in the second half of the Tour.
“Albert Timmer, Roy Curvers and Johannes Fröhlinger are all huge team players. Curvers is our brain on the bike and the road captain to guide the team in the sprint stages. Timmer is an invisible force and knows without question what he needs to do and when. Before anyone else thinks about it, he has already done it. I also see him in a break in one of the more difficult stages.”
With no overall contender, Argos-Shimano will try to get in breakaways in the hilly stages.
“In addition to contesting the sprint stages, we will adopt an offensive strategy for the tougher stages. All the riders, especially in the second part of the Tour, will have their chance to chase individual success,” Guiberteau said.
“In the time trial we are looking forward to seeing Tom Dumoulin, who has made huge improvements this season. Simon Geschke is also capable of making the difference when the course includes some hills and he can envisage some strong results.”
Fröhlinger is also a very intelligent rider and knows what to do. He will play an important role in chasing down breaks, but he can also make the difference in hillier stages.”
The Argos-Shimano team for the 100th Tour de France: Roy Curvers (Ned), John Degenkolb (Ger), Tom Dumoulin (Ned), Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger), Simon Geschke (Ger), Marcel Kittel (Ger), Koen de Kort (Ned), Albert Timmer (Ned) and Tom Veelers (Ned).