Vaughters praises 2013 Tour de France route

At the presentation of the centenary Tour de France route in Paris on Wednesday, Garmin-Sharp's Jonathan Vaughters praised the parcours, calling it "beautiful" but added that the team's first major objective in 2013 would be their defence if the Giro d'Italia title. He added that the team had a number of options for the Tour but that they would be discussed and planned over the coming weeks.

In past years, without a genuine contender for yellow, Garmin have split their Tour ambitions between a number of aims. In 2010, they won four stages wins and aside from 2012, have placed a rider in the top 10 in every year since 2008.

However with Ryder Hesjedal emerging as a force in Grand Tours following his Giro win in May, the team have a rider who they believe can compete with Alberto Contador and Bradley Wiggins.

"It's a good route, it's beautiful. It's very suited to Contador with the hilly time trial and the mountain top finishes are tough. It's not as time trial heavy as 2012 but it's suited to a strong climber who can time trial well and who has a strong team. This year was suited to a strong time trialists who could defend," Vaughters told Cyclingnews.

"It's good for Ryder, too. There's one time trial which is hillier, and he's better at that than a pan-flat one. The team time trial will be good for him, the time trial out Mont-Saint-Michel is the weak point but the fact that the race is so backend loaded into the final week, that also suits him well because he's always good in the third week."

Hesjedal crashed out of this year's Tour on the stage to Metz but at the start of the Tour the Canadian admitted that he was aiming to win. Abandoning the race scuttled his opportunity to try for back-to-back wins, a feat that Contador couldn't achieve in 2011 and hasn't been reached since Marco Pantani in 1998.

"We have to look carefully at the Tour and the season," Vaughters said.

"Our first objective for next year is defending the title at the Giro d'Italia and for the Tour we have a lot of possibilities but our overall structure hasn't been made yet. We've only just seen the route."

Asked if Hesjedal could compete for two Grand Tours in such quick sucession, Vaughters said, "Hesjedal will be concentrating on the Giro defence first and foremost but he was fitter before the Tour than he was before the Giro. Our testing showed he was physically better. So if he can do that again he can contend in both of them."

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Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.