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Quintana, Bouhanni, Barguil lead Arkéa-Samsic at Tour de France

Nacer Bouhanni, Warren Barguil, and Nairo Quintana will lead Arkéa-Samsic at the 2021 Tour de France
Nacer Bouhanni, Warren Barguil, and Nairo Quintana will lead Arkéa-Samsic at the 2021 Tour de France (Image credit: Arkea-Samsic)

Nairo Quintana will lead Arkéa-Samsic at the upcoming Tour de France, as the French team looks to Nacer Bouhanni for the sprints and Warren Barguil for the breakaways. 

The 2021 Tour gets underway in Brest on Saturday and spends the first five days in the Brittany region native to the second-division ProTeam. 

They have named a squad to fight on a number of fronts, with Elie Gesbert able to complement the three leaders in targeting the punchy and medium mountain stages. 

The eight-man squad is noticeably less geared around Quintana compared to last year, when the Colombian hit the ground running in his debut season with the team. Quintana has had a subdued 2021 and the three riders who followed him to the team - Winner Anacona, Diego Rosa, and his brother Dayer Quintana - will have to sit out this year's Tour. 

Quintana won the recent Vuelta a Asturias but struggled to make any impact at the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he placed 20th and where team director Yvan Ledanois issued a scathing critique of the team's form so close to the Tour. 

While Barguil, who placed 14th overall last year - three places above Quintana - could end up doing some work in the mountains, Anthony Delaplace is the only domestique who can provide uphill support. 

Unlike last year, the team have found room for a pure sprinter in Bouhanni, plus a dedicated lead-out man in Dan McLay. Bouhanni, who recently made his comeback from a two-month ban for dangerous sprinting, makes his Tour de France return after a three-year absence. He has yet to taste victory this year but a win would complete the set of stages in all three Grand Tours.

"The objective is to prize open as many opportunities as possible in order to grab a stage win, without neglecting other objectives over the course of the race," said team  boss Emanuel Hubert.

"The balance of strengths has been thought through so as to be able to be up there on all terrain, with riders who can support our leaders in their specific areas."

Both the sprinters and Quintana can expect to receive support from Connor Swift, who has become an important part of the team since joining mid-way through 2019. The former British champion was praised for the way he guided Quintana through the treacherous flat stages last year and showcased his form with victory at the recent Tro Bro Leon.

The squad is rounded out by another pure domestique in Clément Russo, who makes his second successive Tour appearance at the age of 26. 

There is no room for Thomas Boudat, who described to his non-selection as "one of the biggest disappointments of my career and my life in general". The 27-year-old French sprinter had looked forward to riding on home roads in the Gironde region, notably the stage 20 time trial. 

"For the moment, the disappointment is such that I've not been able to move on and think about what's next. I need to take a bit of time so as to take the best decisions for the future."

As Deputy European Editor, Patrick is responsible for Cyclingnews' long-form and in-depth output. Patrick joined Cyclingnews in 2015 as a staff writer after a work experience stint that included making tea and being sent to the Tour de Langkawi. Prior to that, he studied French and Spanish at university and went on to train as a journalist. Rides his bike to work but more comfortable on a football pitch.