Katusha confirm all-Russian Tour de France team

Katusha has named an all-Russian team for the Tour de France. The squad announced its intention to select only home riders in May, and there were few surprises in Andrei Tchmil’s line-up when it was revealed on Monday.

With Joaquim Rodriguez resting for the Vuelta a España and the injured Filippo Pozzato seemingly irredeemably out of favour, the way was cleared for Tchmil to give a definite Russian bent to his selection. The squad’s overall challenge will be led by Vladimir Karpets, while the young sprinter Denis Galimzyanov could prove to be one of the revelations of the race.

“Being at the Tour de France is always something to be proud of, but being there with a 100% Russian team represents, in the sporting point of view, an historical event,” Tchmil said. “We know that, for this reason too, we will be under the spotlight, and so we'll try our best for being a credit to the country we represent.”

Born in the former Soviet Union, Tchmil himself raced under the flags of the USSR, Moldova, Ukraine and Belgium during his lengthy career.

As well as Karpets and Galimzyanov, newly-crowned Russian champion Pavel Brutt is included in the Katusha line-up, along with time trial champion, the stylish Mikhail Ignatiev.

The team also features Vladimir Gusev and two-time world championship silver medallist Alexandr Kolobnev, and Tchmil has good reason to believe that somebody from his stable of Russian-born rouleurs can emerge to take a stage victory, even if he was loathe to set any specific targets.

“Our performance, when we'll cut the finishing line in Champs Elysees, won't be judged by wins, but instead by the courage and the commitment we put in every single stage,” he said.

Katusha team for the Tour de France:

Pavel Brutt, Denis Galimzyanov, Vladimir Gusev, Mikhail Ignatiev, Vladimir Isaychev, Vladimir Karpets, Alexander Kolobnev, Egor Silin, Yuriy Trofimov

Moncoutié leads the Cofidis charge

After a year away from La Grande Boucle, David Moncoutié returns to the Tour de France as co-leader of the Cofidis squad. The Frenchman has won the king of the mountains title in each of the past three seasons at the Vuelta a España, and he is now seeking to repeat that feat on home roads.

Estonian talent Rein Taaramae will also enjoy a degree of protection in Eric Boyer’s squad, which was announced on Monday afternoon. The 24-year-old failed to finish his first Tour last year, but is looking to make a tilt at the white jersey of best young rider this time around.

Team manager Eric Boyer told Ouest France that his squad’s aims were “the white jersey, the polka-dot jersey and a stage win.”

There was no place for two-time French champion Nicolas Vogondy in his selection, however, while 2010 Giro d’Italia stage winner Damien Monier also misses out. Boyer explained that the final decision was simply a matter of form.

“Damien Monier is chasing form, and it’s a bit the same way for Nicolas Vogondy,” he said. Instead, he has opted to give Tour debuts to Romain Zingle and Mickaël Buffaz.

“With Romain Zingle, who showed that he is up the standard at the Vuelta last year, and Mickaël Buffaz, we know where we’re going,” Boyer noted.

Cofidis team for the Tour de France:

Mickaël Buffaz, Samuel Dumoulin, Leonardo Duque, Julien El Fares, Tony Gallopin, David Moncoutié, Rein Taaramae, Tristan Valentin, Romain Zingle

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