After Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) studied the pave of this year's Tour de France on Monday, Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) and Tejay van Garderen (BMC), two of his biggest rivals for overall victory, will travel to France on Thursday to get a taste of the nine sectors of cobbles included in stage five of this year's race.
The 156km fifth stage from Ypres to Arenberg will be a critical stage for all the Tour de France contenders, with the 15.4km of cobbled farm tracks expected to cause riders to lose time and even cost them a chance of overall victory.
The BMC team said that van Garderen will be joined by teammates Peter Velits, Peter Stetina, Dominik Nerz, Amael Moinard, Michael Schär and Greg Van Avermaet for the reconnaissance. The riders will begin their ride at Gruson au Carrefour de l’Arbre and ride the nine sectors of pave until the finish of the stage on the edge of the Forest of Arenberg.
BMC has named van Garderen as its team leader for the Tour de France, with Cadel Evans focusing on the Giro d'Italia. Van Garderen showed his Tour potential by taking fifth overall in 2012. He was only 45th last year but won the Amgen Tour of California and the US Pro Cycling Challenge. He has started the 2014 season strongly, finishing second to Chris Froome at the Tour of Oman. He won the mountain finish at the Volta a Catalunya and was sixth in the recent Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
From Mount Teide to the northern France
Nibali will end his training camp at altitude at Mount Teide with a visit to northern France before heading home to Lugano in Switzerland.
According to a report in Gazzetta dello Sport, Nibali will fly directly from Tenerife to France on Wednesday night and join up with teammates Jakob Fuglsang, Lieuwe Westra, Tanel Kangert and Andriy Grivko.
Directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli and Stefano Zanini will be with the riders but Nibali and Astana will be able to benefit from expert advice from Peter van Petegem. The former Belgian professional won Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders in 2003 and knows the secrets of racing on the pave.
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