With the Critérium du Dauphiné over and the start of the Tour de France just 19 days away, the French teams are finalising their rosters for their biggest race of the season.
Only Ag2r-La Mondiale has an automatic invitation to the Tour de France thanks to its ProTeam status but Cofidis, Europcar, FDJ and Saur-Sojasun have all been awarded wild card invitations.
Despite crashing out of the Critérium du Dauphiné, Nicolas Roche is set to recover in time for the Tour de France and so will lead the Ag2r-La Mondiale team.
According to the L’Equipe newspaper, team manager Vincent Lavenu also hopes Bled Kadri can also recover from his calf muscle injury, so he can join Christophe Riblon and Jean-Christophe Peraud. Maxime Bouet, Sebastien Hinault, Mathieu Perget, Hubert Dupont, Anthony Ravard, Lloyd Mondory and Cyril Dessel are all on the team’s long list. Rinaldo Nocentini is not expected to ride the Tour but Lavenu hopes to convince john Gadret to be part of the team after his impressive fourth place in the Giro d’Italia.
David Moncoutié is now 36 but is set to ride the Tour de France for one last time. Rein Taaramae, Samuel Dumoulin, Julien El Farès and Nicolas Vogondy are all set to secure places with him in the Cofidis roster.
Tony Gallopin will make his Tour de France debut after impressing in his first season as a professional in 2010. French veteran and loyal domestique Mickaël Buffaz is also expected to make his grand boucle debut. Contenders for the final two places include Leonardo Duque, Romain Zingle and Aleksejs Saramotins.
Charismatic team manager and former rider Jean Rene Bernaudeau has pre-selected five riders for the Tour de France on the home roads of the Vendee-based team.
Thomas Voeckler will hope to win another French national champion’s jersey before heading to the Tour de France, while Cyril Gautier, Pierre Rolland, Anthony Charteau, the climber’s jersey winner at the 2010 Tour and Critérium du Dauphiné revelation Christophe Kern have been assured selection. Eight other riders are fighting for the final four places. These include Japan’s Yukiya Arashiro and Sebastien Chavanel.
Marc Madiot refused to reveal his list of riders to L’Equipe but the French newspaper believes Sandy Casar, Pierrick Fédrigo, Jérémy Roy, Anthony Roux, Rémi Pauriol and Yauheni Hutarovich are assured places. Other places could go to either Mickael Delage, Arnold Jeannesson, Remi Pauriol, Roy, Anthony Geslin, Jérémy Roux or Gianni Meersman.
Saur-Sojasun is riding the Tour de France for the first time and hopes young stage racer Jérôme Coppel can perform well overall and secure the bragging rights as best French rider.
He will be backed up by Arnaud Coyot, Jonathan Hivert, Jimmy Engoulvent and Yannick Talabardon. The final three places will be decided after the French national championships, with veteran sprinter Jimmy Casper in contention for one of them.