On the eve of his first Tour de France with Lotto Belisol and fourth consecutive La Grande Boucle, Tony Gallopin is confident that he will start the race in top condition and ready to support his team's objectives for the race.
"I did everything I could to start this Tour with an optimal shape," 26-year-old Gallopin said. "My performances in the Critérium du Dauphiné reassured me about my condition. As the week progressed, I got better. The French championship last weekend didn't take place on a course that suited my capacities, it was cut out for sprinters [ed. Gallopin was 10th.] But the feeling I had along the way did indicate a good condition."
On the flat stages, Gallopin has been tasked with protecting Andre Greipel as part of the sprint train and then stick with the teams GC rider Jurgen Van den Broeck "until the last climb, as I did in the Dauphiné" but he also have opportunities for himself.
"On the other hand I can have a go of my own in certain stages," Gallopin said. "That's when there isn't a bunch sprint on the cards and the course isn't tough enough for the GC riders, like this Sunday on the stage to Sheffield. On such days I will try to get in a break and I can pursue a good result. Also in the Vosges there are opportunities for me."
While the first stage on paper is regarded as one for the sprinters, Gallopin explained that it won't be a straight forward day of racing but is excited by how Yorkshire has embraced the Grand Départ. "We did a recon of the first stage and the course is definitely not that flat, but it's suited for André Greipel," he said. "You notice the Tour atmosphere here, houses and villages are decorated."
Gallopin explained the balanced parcours of the 10st edition of the race is one he is looking forward to over the next three-weeks.
"This edition has one of the most beautiful courses of the last years," he said. "There's a good mix between stages for sprinters, punchers, escapees and GC riders. Everyone who stands at the start is proud to be selected for the Tour. For a Frenchman it's even more special because the biggest part takes place in our country."