André Greipel will face off against Mark Cavendish for only the second time since last year’s Tour de France as he heads Lotto-Soudal’s ambitions this July. The pair have only sprinted against each other at the Tour of Turkey since the Manxman crashed out of the 2014 Tour on day one. Cavendish mopped up three stage wins in Turkey while the German took a solitary victory before he abandoned to focus on the Giro d’Italia.
Greipel left the Giro with a stage victory, and he has since gone on to take two stage wins apiece at the Tour de Luxembourg and Ster ZLM Toer, claiming the overall classification in the latter. Greipel will be relying on Greg Henderson, Jens Debusschere and Marcel Sieberg to help him tip the balance in his favour at the Tour and the team are hopeful that he can deliver.
“This choice is based on trust: in what they did for the team in the past, their current condition and the way we want to approach the next Tour,” said team manager Marc Sergeant.
“André Greipel remains one of the foundations of the team. Since 2011 he won at least one Tour stage each year, he got a confidence boost the past weeks in several races and with a good team around him we aim for another stage win. It’s true there are less sprint opportunities than previous years, but still this is our biggest chance of a stage win.”
The likes of Lars Bak and Adam Hansen, who will be making his 12th consecutive Grand Tour appearance, provide big engines to pull the team along on the flat days, and along with Tony Gallopin, 2012 Giro d’Italia podium finisher Thomas de Gendt and Tim Wellens, they give the team options on the lumpier terrain too.
Gallopin had a very successful 2014 Tour de France, taking a stage win and wearing the yellow jersey for two days. He showed similar aggression with his stage win at Paris-Nice to put him in contention for the overall victory, only losing out in the final time trial.
De Gendt will be making his first Grand Tour appearance for Lotto, after joining them at the beginning of this season, while Tim Wellens is making his Tour de France debut. Wellens rode the Giro d’Italia in 2014, finishing fourth in the mountains classification after going on the attack in the final week.
“We want to continue our attractive way of racing of the first part of the season. We got lots of publicity and positive reactions. In each stage that won’t end with a bunch sprint our riders can attack. The fact that we don’t have a GC rider this year gives more freedom to this type of riders,” said Sergeant. “Except for Tim Wellens, for whom it’s the first Tour, they all proved they can win a stage in a Grand Tour. Tim can go the Tour without any pressure, like he raced in the Giro last year.”
Lotto-Soudal team for the Tour de France: Lars Bak, Thomas De Gendt, Jens Debusschere, Tony Gallopin, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Marcel Sieberg and Tim Wellens.
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