The Etixx-QuickStep team are putting their emphasis on the first half of the Tour de France, aiming for stage wins and the victory in the team time trial on stage 9 before turning their focus to the mountains. Rather than place an aim on the overall classification, the Belgian team instead seeks to win stages and spend some time holding the yellow jersey.
Sprinter Mark Cavendish will have his main lead-out men Mark Renshaw, Matteo Trentin and Zdeněk Štybar by his side, together with power riders Tony Martin and world champion Michal Kwiatkowski. Rigoberto Urán, coming off a 14th place in the Giro d'Italia, will focus on the mountain stages, while Michal Golas and Julien Vermote will provide support.
"We are at the start of this Tour de France with a very talented and experienced team," Sport and Development Manager Rolf Aldag said. "Of course for a team like ours, until the 9th Stage at the TTT, every day will be a challenge."
Aldag expects the opening week to suit the team as it heads from the Netherlands through several crosswind-battle days through Belgium. "Starting in the beginning in Utrecht with the ITT, and continuing the day after with a stage that, on paper, looks to be conditioned by crosswinds along the sea. It's no secret we have a team that is built for these kinds of efforts. So we are looking forward to this stage."
"Stage 4 with the cobbles, it is another stage that suits our team perfectly, even if riding on a Classic parcours during the Tour de France is not exactly like riding the spring races. Of course, in cycling anything can happen during these stages, but we know we are as prepared as any team in the peloton to do well on the cobbled sectors."
The team will then turn their focus to Cavendish, who will get the whole team at his service for the flat stages 5, 6, and 7 before the stage finishing on the Mûr-de-Bretagne and the team time trial.
Aldag says the TTT is "a important appointment on our road to Paris", and a focus for the team. The 2012 and 2013 world champions in the discipline have not yet won a team time trial in the Tour, coming second to Orica-GreenEdge in 2013.
After the first rest day, the team will turn their focus to their climbers. "In the second part of Le Tour there are still some stages for the sprints, but also a lot of ground for climbers and attackers. We have options also in the mountains with a rider like Rigoberto Urán, but not only him. Riders such as Tony and Michal showed already in the past that every day they can invent something significant.
"We want to be consistent over the three weeks and try to be present on multiple levels. We want to be present in the stages, and why not, try to get the yellow jersey for a few days. Wearing that jersey even for few days is always a big achievement. The guys prepared well for this race, and we are confident that all the jobs we've done in the last weeks will pay off at the right moment. We believe in our selection formed by riders of eight different nationalities. Our ultimate goal is to leave a mark in this Tour de France, and we believe we have the potential to do it.”
Etixx - QuickStep for the Tour de France: Mark Cavendish, Michal Golas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Tony Martin, Mark Renshaw, Zdeněk Štybar, Matteo Trentin, Rigoberto Urán, and Julien Vermote.
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