Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan will headline the Tinkoff-Saxo team at this year’s Tour de France. Contador will be aiming to become the first rider since 1998 to win both the Giro and the Tour in the same season, while Sagan is targeting his fourth consecutive green jersey. An experienced line-up, including Michael Rogers, Roman Kreuziger, Ivan Basso and Matteo Tosatto will be there to support the duo.
Contador won the Giro d’Italia last month in convincing style, beating home favourite Fabio Aru (Astana). He proved that he was still in top shape with overall victory and a stage win at the Route du Sud, beating fellow Tour contender Nairo Quintana (Movistar). Contador will be targeting his third Tour de France title – excluding the 2010 race, which was scratched from his palmarès.
The last time that Contador rode both Grand Tours in the same season, he won the Giro but would go onto finish fifth at the Tour. However, those results too were removed from the record when he was banned following a positive test for Clenbuterol. If he does take victory in Paris, he would become only the eighth rider to win the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in the same year.
This year’s Tour will be Peter Sagan’s first Grand Tour appearance in Tinkoff-Saxo colours, after his move from Cannondale over the winter. After a decidedly shaky start to the season, Sagan has stepped things up a notch in June with two stage wins at the Tour de Suisse – which make him the overall record holder – and national titles in the time trial and road race. Another green jersey would put him equal second with Sean Kelly in the record books and two away from Erik Zabel’s six in a row.
Rule changes could make Sagan’s defence a little harder and, unlike previous years, he is not the team’s main focus. “It’s pretty obvious that our chief goal is to win the Tour with Alberto,” said directeur sportif Steven de Jongh. “We have our full attention on pulling on the yellow jersey in Paris and we are well aware of the fact that it will be a formidable challenge against many strong rivals. Additionally we will support Peter Sagan to win stages, whenever it’s possible and that depends on the situation on each stage.”
Basso, Rogers, Tosatto and Kreuziger all follow Contador in riding both the Giro and the Tour, giving Tinkoff-Saxo one of the most experienced line-ups at the race. Tosatto will be making his 32nd Grand Tour appearance and his depth of knowledge came in handy during the Giro, when Contador was left without a bike following a late crash on stage 13.
Last year’s king of the mountains Rafal Majka will add to the support and give the climbing team a boost of fresh legs. Daniele Bennati adds to the experience and will provide Sagan will some help on the flatter stages, as will former Danish champion Michael Valgren who is making his Tour de France debut.
“Looking at the list of riders that will represent our team, I reckon that we will field a very strong squad and most importantly versatile, as the Tour will present us all with an array of different challenges,” said de Jongh.
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