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Tour de France build-up 2019: 1 day to go

Good morning, and welcome back to our live blog for another day of Tour de France build-up. The Grand Départ is just 24 hours away, and today we have more press conferences, training rides, and the like. We've been speaking to all the top riders so will have plenty of pre-race thoughts to bring you, along with the latest photos and gear on display in Brussels. 

CCC were the first team to hold their press conference today, and that's just wrapping up. Here's Greg Van Avermaet and co kitted up and ready to now head out for a training spin. 

 

 

Coming up today we have press conferences from Ineos, Mitchelton-Scott, and Bahrain-Merida all around 2pm local time.

 

A little later there's a particularly interesting one in the form of Dimension Data. No mention was made of Mark Cavendish in the team's squad announcement, and the 30-time stage winner obviously won't be there, but he'll still dominate the agenda, with team manager Doug Ryder set to face plenty of questions over his omission. 

 

Finally, Bora-Hansgrohe are up at 4pm. There's Peter Sagan, obviously, but there's more to the team than the three-time world champion. They've had a really strong season and, in Max Schachmann, Emmanuel Buchmann and Patrick Konrad, possess a versatile and exciting squad. 

 

Before we go anywhere, today marks the final day in Cyclingnews' annual 'countdown' to the Tour de France. We always produce 10 special features to whet the appetite, and with just one day to go, our final piece sees us pick out 10 riders to watch over the next three weeks. 

 

Obviously it's a tough task picking just 10 riders from a Tour de France start list but we've selected some names who could provide some good storylines over the course of the race. Let us know what you think and who you'd have picked. 

 

10 riders to watch at the 2019 Tour de France

 

 

Greipel: This could be my last Tour

 

Tomorrow's opening stage is more than likely one for the sprinters, and we've been speaking to a fair few of them. André Greipel didn't seem too upbeat. The German, who has won 11 Tour stages, has yet to find his feet at the second-division Arkéa-Samsic team, and comes into the Tour low on confidence.

 

"We’re going to find out how my form is over the next three weeks," he said. "I had a lot of health issues in the last two months but I’ll try and enjoy the Tour. I’m happy be here. How it turns out, we’ll find out. The health issues are okay. I’m hoping for good legs.

 

"I wouldn’t call it a lead-out train. I’ve got riders helping me for a good position. It’s not easy to try and compete against the top sprinters. It’s good to be back, though. This could be my last Tour - with the status of the team, you never know if we’re selected next year. I’m going to try and enjoy it and take it as if it’s my last. If I look at my legs, I think there’s still life in them."

Dylan Groenewegen is, for many, the strongest sprinter in the world at the moment and therefore the favourite to pull on the first yellow jersey tomorrow. Here's what he has to say. 

 

"I hope to win the first stage and take the yellow jersey. I’ll try and we have a very good team. I’m in very good shape, so we’ll see. There is Viviani and Ewan, who are very strong. I’ve seen the stage on the video. It’s a good sprint for me but I’ll ride it Friday. It’s hard to ride it in training because it’s busy but I’ll look at it and then we’ll make a plan. Last year I didn’t start the Tour so well but won on stage 7. This year I will have good legs at the beginning."

Speaking of Groenewegen, he was asked yesterday about Marcel Kittel and the rumours that the German could return to the sport next year as his teammate at Jumbo-Visma. "Every team needs a second sprinter," he said. Here's the story

 

The Tour is obviously the biggest stage in the sport and we always see brands launching new products around this time. This morning, Giant has launched its new components range. Our tech editor Josh Evans has the details.

 

Giant launches Cadex wheels and finishing kit at Tour de France
 

 

Peter Sagan was very much his usual self as he spoke at the teams presentation yesterday evening. The three-time world champion isn't a fan of predicting the future and kept his cards close to his chest about his ambitions in this Tour de France, with a possible yellow jersey tomorrow and a record-breaking seventh green jersey by Paris. 

 

Peter Sagan gives nothing away ahead of Tour de France opener

 

 

There's just one day to go until the start of the Tour de France, and out latest podcast is out now. It features interviews with Geraint Thomas, Richie Porte, press conferences from Groupama-FDJ, Trek-Segafredo, and Deceuninck-QuickStep, and much more.

 

Tour de France countdown podcast: Thomas, Porte, Cummings, Bennett

Alexander Kristoff talked about his chances over the next three weeks, including his hopes of challenging for the green jersey. The 32-year-old Russian, racing his seventh Tour, says he isn't feeling pressure, but doesn't see himself as the biggest favourite among the sprinters.

 

"We’ll take it day by day. The Green jersey is a bit out of reach as long as Sagan is in the race. Last year I finished second on the first stage but also almost crashed out. As long as something doesn’t happen to him I think that green will be difficult. Saturday is a chance to win and take yellow but I don’t see myself as the biggest favourite. If I’m luck then everything is possible.

"I’ve had good form all year but I didn’t feel super in Suisse or the national championships. Maybe that’s what I needed but I’m focused on Saturday and trying to do my best. If I have a bit of luck and someone makes a mistake then maybe I have a chance for victory. I don’t see myself as the biggest favourite.

"I was prepared to do the leadout at the Tour and I was motivated to have that different approach but now I have the same approach as in previous years. We just have to play it the best way that we can and take it day-by-day. I have Jasper as my last man but we have Jasper as my last man. That will be a bit new but he’s good in the sprints and knows about positioning. We’ve done some Classics together but this the sprints are different here to the ones at the Tour. I’ve not changed my training, it’s just been more of a mental change.

"If I had not signed a contract by now then for sure there would be more pressure. I don’t have that pressure and I can maybe race more freely."

 

Every year sees a number of teams roll out special jerseys for the Tour de France, with Team Sky switching from black to white and Jumbo-Visma often substituting some yellow for white in order to avoid confusion with the maillot jaune.

 

This year is no different with Bora-Hansgrohe adding a splash of white and UAE Team Emirates opting for white shorts. Trek-Segafredo have also made a change, from red, black and white to white with a red band. Here's the story.

 

 

2014 winner Vincenzo Nibali says he is "stuck between a rock and hard place" at this year's Tour.

 

The Bahrain-Merida leader mulled his options for the race after Thursday's team presentation – he can either go stage hunting, or try for a GC bid, which could falter in the third week, given that he's already raced the Giro this season. He added that he'll decide which path to take as the race evolves. Read the full story here.

 

Here's a bit of tech news in among all the rider quotes – Giant have announced a new range of wheels, tyres, saddles and finishing kit ahead of the Tour de France.

 

The new line, called Cadex, will be used by Greg Van Avermaet's CCC Team this month. The rest of us will have to wait a little longer though, with the Cadex line of products available to buy from September. Check out all the details here.

 

Caleb Ewan has had a strong start to his first season with Lotto Soudal. The Australian has six wins so far in 2019, including two stages at the Giro d'Italia, two at the Tour of Turkey, and a win at the ZLM Tour at the end of last month.

 

He should be in contention on tomorrow's uphill finish – his first ever Tour de France stage – and with almost half of the race's stages potential sprint battlegrounds, there's plenty of chances beyond Brussels.

 

Here's what he had to say about tomorrow's finish and the potential to take the first yellow jersey of the race.

 

"I just drove down the finishing straight. I think it looks quite good for me. It’s one kilometer uphill and it should suit me actually. You’ll have to time it right because if you go to early it will slow you down if you start to fade. It’s a gentle incline. I’ve not looked at the wind but it’s quite covered there with the trees.

"The stage doesn’t seem like it will be too windy at the moment but it’s Belgium and it can get quite windy here. That could be an issue.

"[Taking yellow] doesn’t change things. Even if there wasn’t a yellow jersey up for grabs every sprinter wants to start the Tour well. All the sprinters have pressure on them to do well, so it’s just an extra bonus if you win the stage that you can take the jersey. I feel good and relaxed. I’m in good enough form."

 

 

Here's our latest new piece, straight from the CCC Team press conference. Team boss Jim Ochowicz and team leader Greg Van Avermaet talked about how the team's Tour de France would look without a GC leader, and laid out their plan to get Van Avermaet into yellow after the team time trial.

 

"We’ve always been focused on the TTT. We did that in 2018 and it earned us the yellow jersey. We’re well prepared for it," said Ochowicz. "What matters is the time gap. We need to stay within 25 seconds of the team who wins the TTT." Read the full story here.

 

 

The Team Ineos press conference is underway, and we'll get the news from there later on. In the meantime, team boss David Brailsford confirmed that Chris Froome left hospital yesterday, just over three weeks after a crash which left him with multiple serious injuries.

 

Here's a look at the bike the team will ride at the Tour – the Pinarello Dogma F12. This particular bike belongs to defending champion Geraint Thomas, with the Welsh dragon on the headtube a bit of a give away.

 

 

Mitchelton-Scott's press conference is also underway, so plenty of news to come!

 

Here's a live shot of the boss and the two team leaders at the Ineos presser.

 

 

The big news from Dimension Data's Tour de France squad announcement was the omission of Mark Cavendish. "I'm just sad," said Steve Cummings of the news. "From being a long-term friend. He's a legend of the Tour de France and it's a big call to leave him out." Cummings talked about his own selection and aspirations for the race too. Read the full story here.

 

Alexander Kristoff talked about his chances over the next three weeks, including his hopes of challenging for the green jersey. The 32-year-old Norwegian, racing his seventh Tour, says he isn't feeling pressure, but doesn't see himself as the biggest favourite among the sprinters.

 

 

"We’ll take it day by day. The Green jersey is a bit out of reach as long as Sagan is in the race. Last year I finished second on the first stage but also almost crashed out. As long as something doesn’t happen to him I think that green will be difficult. Saturday is a chance to win and take yellow but I don’t see myself as the biggest favourite. If I’m luck then everything is possible.

 

"I’ve had good form all year but I didn’t feel super in Suisse or the national championships. Maybe that’s what I needed but I’m focused on Saturday and trying to do my best. If I have a bit of luck and someone makes a mistake then maybe I have a chance for victory. I don’t see myself as the biggest favourite.

 

"I was prepared to do the leadout at the Tour and I was motivated to have that different approach but now I have the same approach as in previous years. We just have to play it the best way that we can and take it day-by-day. I have Jasper as my last man but we have Jasper as my last man. That will be a bit new but he’s good in the sprints and knows about positioning. We’ve done some Classics together but this the sprints are different here to the ones at the Tour. I’ve not changed my training, it’s just been more of a mental change.

 

"If I had not signed a contract by now then for sure there would be more pressure. I don’t have that pressure and I can maybe race more freely."

Here's our gallery of yesterday's team presentation in Brussels. The crowds were huge as the Tour de France festivities kicked off, and Eddy Merckx was honoured on stage 50 years after his first Tour victory.

 

 

While we wait for news to filter through from this afternoon's press conferences (including that of Team Ineos), here's what Geraint Thomas had to say at the team presentation yesterday.

 

"He's [Egan] an honest and good guy, and as long as we communicate well and are open with each other, like Froome and I were last year, then it can work just as well. Obviously it will be a huge advantage to have two of us there in the finals," he said.

 

The final day in our ten-day countdown to the Tour de France means it's our final feature in the leadup to the race. Click through for our ten riders to watch over the next three weeks.

 

Tour debutant Wout Van Aert is in there. He won two stages of the Critérium du Dauphiné, but what can we expect from him this month?

 

He may give us more indications of the kind of rider he's yet to develop into on the road over the next three weeks. Whatever he does, Van Aert can expect to be watched with interest by both fans and the media at this year's Tour.

 

A host of new national champions around the world were crowned last week, and 12 of them will be at the Tour de France. Can you name them all?

 

Don't worry if you can't because we have a gallery of each rider resplendent in their new jersey at Thursday's team presentation. Click through for our national champion jerseys gallery.

 

 

 

A reminder about our latest Tour de France countdown podcast. It features interviews with reigning champion Geraint Thomas, Trek-Segafredo contender Richie Porte and more, as well as analysis of various teams after their press conferences. Click through to read more and listen.

 

Bora-Hansgrohe leader Peter Sagan is among the favourites for Saturday's opening stage in Brussels. The six-time green jersey winner is looking to add a seventh to his collection this July, but wouldn't be drawn on his chances of success at the Tour. Read the full story here.

 

Incidentally, Bora-Hansgrohe have just held their press conference. Max Schachmann, Peter Sagan, Emanuel Buchmann and Patrick Konrad were there. Here are a few photos.

 

 

 

Here's a summary of the Mitchelton-Scott press conference at Scott's headquarters from our man on the ground, Brecht Decaluwé.

 

Tom Boonen was an unexpected guest and chatted with European champion Matteo Trentin about bike tech. The big question of the day was how the team would separate Adam and Simon Yates, though Adam is the clear leader, targeting the general classification. Trentin and Daryl Impey will be free to challenge for stage wins along the way.

 

 

And an update from Bora-Hansgrohe, via Stephen Farrand.

 

At the Bora-Hansgrohe press conference, Peter Sagan appeared to be one of four team leaders, rather than the only leader. The German team is also targeting a place in the top ten in GC with Patrick Konrad and Emanuel Buchmann. Sagan only has close friend Daniel Oss to help him in the sprints, with Maciej Bodnar not selected.

The team has won 33 races so far this season – as many as they did in the whole os 2018. So far, Sagan only has three wins in 2019, though there will be plenty of chances to improve on that this July.

 

You may remember the brief note about Chris Froome leaving hospital from earlier this afternoon. Here's the full story, including quotes from Dave Brailsford, as the four-time Tour de France winner leaves hospital after a 22-day stay.

 

Here's our story on CCC Team and Greg Van Avermaet from earlier on. The team has a plan in place to get their leader in yellow the day after the stage 2 team time trial.

 

Click through for team boss Jim Ochowicz and Van Avermaet on their hopes for the Tour, and how they'll approach the race with no GC leader.

 

Our report on the opening stage of the Giro Rosa in Piedmont is up. The team time trial was only 18 kilometres long but it was tough one, and there are some decent gaps between the contenders already. Click through to read the report and results.

 

 

Our Tour de France stage 1 preview is up! The first stage win and thus, the first yellow jersey of the race, is up for grabs in Brussels tomorrow afternoon, and the sprinters will be out in force to try and claim them. 

 

Despite the uphill rise to the line, it looks like pure sprinters such as Dylan Groenewegen and Elia Viviani will be in with a shot of competing with riders like Peter Sagan, Caleb Ewan and Michael Matthews. There are even more contenders for the win, too. Read the full preview here.

 

 

Greipel: This could be my last Tour de France

German sprinter says "I think there's still life in my legs"

Read the full story here.

Tour de France: Confident and consistent Adam Yates targets podium

Twin brother Simon Yates is super domestique for final week

Read the full story here.

 

That's it for our final lead-up to the Tour de France. We'll be back for full coverage of the opening stage in Brussels! Thanks for reading.

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