Kreuziger was pulled from the team at the weekend after it was revealed that the UCI is set to open disciplinary proceedings against him, as a result of anomalies detected in his biological passport in 2011 and 2012. Although Kreuziger is not formally suspended, the team has announced that he will not race again until more information on the case is forthcoming.
Despite initial misgivings, Majka, who finished 6th at the recent Giro d’Italia, accepted the invitation to replace Kreuziger in the team and the Pole is the sole Tour debutant in an experienced Tinkoff-Saxo squad.
Contador is seeking to win his first Tour since 2009 – he was stripped of the 2010 title after testing positive for clenbuterol – and he is backed by one of the strongest teams in the race.
Michael Rogers, who won two stages at the Giro, Route du Sud winner Nicolas Roche and Jesus Hernandez will join Majka as Contador’s key men in the mountains, while the well-balanced roster also includes Sergio Paulinho, Daniele Bennati, Matteo Tosatto and Michael Mørkøv.
“It has been very difficult to select this year’s line-up,” manager Bjarne Riis said. “This year, we’ve had a very strong group of candidates, who have all been showing impressive spirit. We have selected a team of high quality both in relations to individual strength and their compatibility to support each other and ride as a team towards the main goal of winning the Tour with Alberto.”
After a lacklustre 2013 campaign, capped by a fourth place finish at the Tour, Contador has bounced back impressively thus far in 2014. The Spaniard has won Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country, and finished second overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné, Volta ao Algarve and Volta a Catalunya.
Contador takes the start in Leeds on Saturday as the principal challenger to Chris Froome and Team Sky’s recent hegemony, and there are opportunities to go on the offensive long before the race reaches the high mountains of the Alps and Pyrenees.
“It’s a tough Tour this year with almost no flat stages after the first week. When we reach the Vosges, we’ll already be facing serious climbs,” Riis said.
“We’ve chosen riders that are capable of protecting Alberto on all kind of stages and supporting him to the fullest in the mountains. I have complete confidence in our team, their readiness and their commitment to take up the fight in this year’s Tour. We all focus on standing on the podium in France putting on the yellow jersey.”
Tinkoff-Saxo team for Tour de France: Alberto Contador, Michael Rogers, Nicolas Roche, Rafal Majka, Jesús Hernandez, Sergio Paulinho, Daniele Bennati, Matteo Tosatto and Michael Mørkøv.
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