Garmin Slipstream's Jonathan Vaughters believes that the 2010 Tour de France route could be custom made for Alberto Contador but that in Christian Vande Velde, Bradley Wiggins and Tyler Farrar, his team will have plenty of opportunities to succeed.
The route was unveiled yesterday in Paris but without any Garmin riders present at the ceremony it was left to Vaughters to answer questions regarding the paracours and his rider's chances.
"My initial reaction is that it's more difficult than 2009," he told Cyclingnews. "There's almost a full week in the Pyrenees so it suits guys who can handle day-after-day of climbing after two weeks of hard racing."
"Last year there were moments that were decisive and explosive. For example, Contador won with two or three attacks, but this isn't going to be so explosive. It will be a war off attrition in the Pyrenees."
The race starts in Rotterdam with an 8 kilometre prologue before swinging into Belgium for stages that could potentially damage the outcome of many general classification riders' prospects, with pave sections and possible cross winds.
"Normally I wouldn't think much of he pave, but they've positioned those sectors close to the finish and that makes it more intense. For us that's a good thing. We have a team that's pretty versatile and can pop over the cobbles with no problems, but the race looks custom for Contador to dominate. That one piece that doesn't look too good for him, though."
However it's the Pyrenees that Vaughters sees as the real battleground for the overall, and with both Vande Velde and Wiggins the team could have two cards to play for podium places. "I see the time in the Pyrenees being really advantageous for Vande Velde. Wiggins, he's an unknown quality. His improvement curve is so steep that if he could be a five per cent better climber than this year he could be incredible.
"On paper right now, of course it would be better if there was more time trialing and a team time trial but he's such a new rider to three week races that we don't know where he's going to end up next year."
Vaughters already has a clear idea of the spine of his line-up, with several names already down on paper for July. "I would certainly want to see Wiggins or Farrar take the yellow jersey early in the race. With Vande Velde, the route suits him with the mountains being so late, and Martjin can show his experience on the cobbles.
"Of course we'll probably bring Millar and then we'll need someone to lead out Farrar, so you can already see the team shaping up. It's just the last two or three spots where we have to decide. If we're going to make a hard push for the general classification or surrounding the team around Farrar a little more, that's a decision we wont make until much later," he said.
Despite two top ten rides in Vande Velde (2008) and Wiggins (2009) Garmin are still looking for their first stage win in the race, but since the Tour they've racked up wins in the Tour of Missouri, Vuelta Espana, Eneco Tour and Vattenfall Cyclassics.
"We've got a versatile team. It took us two years to figure out how to win together but I think we've proved that we can do that at the highest level. We now have more confidence than we've ever had."
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