Vacansoleil-DCM has announced its line-up for the Tour de France with Johnny Hoogerland and the in-form Lieuwe Westra leading the line for the Dutch squad this July.
Hoogerland’s dramatic crash on stage 9 may have garnered its share of headlines last year but the Dutchman was equally noteworthy for his aggressive riding. He briefly wore the king of the mountains jersey and will launch a more concerted campaign for the polka dot jersey in 2012.
Westra showed his quality with a second place finish at Paris-Nice in March and he confirmed that he is on track for the Tour by winning the Dutch time trial championship on Wednesday. His fellow rouleur Gustav Larsson is also included, and the pair have almost 100 kilometres of time trialling in which to show their worth this year.
Kenny van Hummel, who arrived from Skil-Shimano in the off-season, makes his first Tour appearance since 2009 and will look to compete with Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel et al in the bunch sprints.
Although the squad contains no obvious overall contender, Vacansoleil-DCM has selected a group of riders with the nous to eke out stage victory somewhere along the line, as Rob Ruijgh, Wout Poels – who showed his form at the recent Tour of Luxembourg – Marco Marcato, Rafael Valls and Tour debutant Kris Boeckmans round out the line-up.
Sports director Hilaire Van der Schueren outlined that the team’s stated objective was to pick up a stage win. “During the Tour we would like to show our next improvement,” he said. “The classifications and jerseys are not our main goals. We want to win a stage again, like we did in the Giro d’Italia and earlier in the Vuelta.”
The most notable absentee from the Vacansoleil-DCM line-up is Roman Feillu. The Frenchman and former yellow jersey has had his share of placings in 2012 but as yet no victories.
Stijn Devolder has also been overlooked, while Thomas De Gendt had already long since ruled out his own participation. The third-place finisher at the Giro d’Italia is getting married on June 30, the day the Tour begins in Liège.
In a statement released on Thursday, Vacansoleil-DCM also announced that Rafael Valls has extended his contract with the team through to the end of 2013.
Vacansoleil-DCM team for the Tour de France: Kris Boeckmans, Johnny Hoogerland, Kenny van Hummel, Gustav Larsson, Marco Marcato, Wout Poels, Rob Ruijgh, Rafael Valls and Lieuwe Westra