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Tour de France Countdown 2016: Day 1

The Tour de France begins in just two days' time. We'll bring you all the build-up ahead of the start in Mont-Saint-Michel on Saturday.

 

Today, Lotto Soudal, IAM Cycling, Team Sky, Cannondale, Bora Argon 18, Tinkoff and all Dimension Data are all set to host their pre-race press conferences. Bora-Argon 18 and Cannondale will have major sponsorship announcements.

 

And in the evening, the team presentation will take place where our reporters will bring you all the news you need to know!

Orica-GreenEdge, who will now be known as Orica-BikeExchange, revealed its new kit earlier today. The Australian team have changed from a predominately white jersey, to blue and added the BikeExchange logo to the chest. For a closer look at the kits, click here

The biggest news of the morning though surrounds German Pro-Continental team Bora-Argon 18, who have reportedly added German bathroom products manufacturer Hansgrohe as naming rights sponsor and signed world champion Peter Sagan. For more on the story, click here

Bora-Argon 18 are holding its pre-Tour press conference later today at 1:45pm when team manager Raph Denk is expected to confirm the announcement.

At the FDJ press conference, it has been announce overall contender Thibaut Pinot has extended his contract for a further two seasons 

Team Sky's press conference will be held at 10am this morning with Chris Froome the man of interest for the world's cycling press

 

There is also some contract news this morning with BMC Racing announcing Amaël Moinard will remain with the team for a seventh season. 

 

More contract news out this morning with FDJ confirming that Thibaut Pinot has signed for another two years. That will bring him to eight years with the French squad. 

Team Sky's press conference got under way, present is defending champion Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas. Dave Brailsford is also in attendance. 

 

Chris Froome has spoken highly of the team that is there to support him but know's that he can't count his chickens just yet.

"I’ve got all my bases covered with the guys we have here. I’m ready for this year’s Tour but I know we can’t take anything for granted but we’ve got the potential to get the job done. This is the toughest challenge of my career," he says.

 

Here are Team Sky talking to the press this morning. 

 

 

More from Chris Froome this morning: "This is a climber-based route. Even the two time trials, one is uphill and the other has two climbs on it. The amount of climbing does outweigh previous editions. Everyone here can go uphill, including Stannard."

 

The team is holding their press conference at their hotel near Omaha Beach, where the finish is on Saturday. The mechanics were busy at work when Cyclingnews arrived and Mikel Landa's bike was on show. 

 

 

Froome is asked about the scrutiny, negativity, and downright abuse he famously faced last year - and whether he's worried about going through it all again. 

 

"Hopefully it's the same way we were received at Dauphiné two weeks ago, with a great atmosphere," he says. "This is the biggest race for us of our calendar. We love being here and we love being in France."

 

"We’ve just had our first son and so it's been good to spend more time at home and ease into racing," says Froome of the changes to the structure of his season. 

 

"It’s been good to change it up a bit, to have a different focus and trust the training with Tim [Kerrison] that I’d reach best condition even while not winning races since February. I’m glad we took that approach and I hope it will carry me better into the third week. That’s a personal goal, to be stronger in this edition of the Tour."

 

After Brailsford is asked about the England football manager job, Sky's press conference wraps up and the riders exit stage left to get ready for a nice training ride in the pouring rain. 

 

We'll be heading over to the Cannondale hotel next - their press conference gets underway at 1pm CET.

 

Who are best riders not picked for the Tour?

 

As part of our run of countdown features, we've put together a full nine-man team, and we think it's pretty strong. What do you reckon?

 

Tour de France: The alternative 'non-selected’ nine-man team

 

 

A note on that Brailsford/England football angle...

 

He dodged the question but did say something about sport being a 'small world'. Obviously he wouldn't become the manager, but it's not inconceivable to see him taking up some kind of role to help the national team out of its current mire. Some aspects of sports management are transferable and he did give speeches to the players a couple of years ago, and has in the past expressed his interest in getting involved in the sport...

 

New bike for Cancellara!

 

Trek-Segafredo's pre-Tour press conference is tomorrow but today they've unveiled yet another special edition bike for star rider Fabian Cancellara. We'll have a story on Spartacus' latest steed shortly.

 

Tinkoff's press conference is coming up this afternoon and we're happy to welcome their charismatic - is that the best word? - team manager Oleg Tinov back as a Cyclingnews blogger for the Tour de France. 

 

His latest blog has just landed in our inbox and so you'll be able to read his thoughts on the site very soon.

 

 

 

Our reporter Stephen Farrand has just written this initial story from the Team Sky press conference, with quotes from Froome, Brailsford, and Thomas.

 

Team Sky ready to help Froome win a third Tour de France

 

As promised, here's the story on Cancellara's bike, with an explanation of this latest custom paint job. 

 

Cancellara gets special-edition Trek Madone for Tour de France

 

 

Cannondale's press conference coming up in 5 minute

 

Cannondale's press conference coming up in 5 minutes

 

The headline news that kicks off the Cannondale presser is the announcement of a merger with the Drapac team. 

Drapac is a Pro Continental Australian team but they'll join forces with the American-registered WorldTour quad to form Cannondale-Drapac in 2017. 

 

Both squads continue as normal for the rest of the season, but the Drapac logo will feature on Cannondale's lime green jerseys throughout the Tour. 

 

 

"Michael Drapac and I have been friends for some time. I have always been impressed with his entrepreneurial vision and understanding of markets. However, what piqued my interest in partnering with Michael is his passion for helping athletes find their way through life in a healthier way,” says Slipstream Sports CEO/Cannondale team manager Jonathan Vaughters said.

 

“Although it’s seldom acknowledged, most professional cyclists have given up everything in order to pursue excellence in their sport. While commendable, this leaves them very vulnerable to an ever more complex world.”

Some context to that quote...

 

Drapac, a property funds management business, describes itself as having a "holistic philosophy" and the new team will place an emphasis on riders' well-being away from the framework of the sport itself.

 

"Together with Crossing the Line, an organization designed to assist athletes transition out of professional competition, the pro team will offer workshops, individual counseling services, mentoring, and robust educational support to its riders. It is the first program of its kind at WorldTour level," reads the press release. 

 

We've just spied the Cannondale team bus, which has also had a Drapac update.

 

 

Bora-Argon 18's press conference is about to get underway. 

 

The German Pro Continental team, which hopes to get a WorldTour licence next year, is set to unveil a new sponsor of its own. 

 

"This year the level of competition is higher than ever"

 

Cyclingnews Editor Daniel Benson's report on Froome from the Sky presser is here.

 

Tour de France: Froome ready for toughest ever challenge

 

 

 

And click here for the full story on Cannondale-Drapac. 

 

As expected, Bora-Argon 18 have unveiled Hansgrohe as a new spsonsor. 

 

Hansgrohe are a bathroom products manufacturer with previous involvement in cyclo-cross, recently sponsoring the Superprestige series.

 

Alberto Contador has departed the Tinkoff press conference and it is now Peter Sagan sitting in front of the press. 

Sagan has been linked to a move to the Bora-Argon 18 squad for next season but during their press conference earlier today, the team dismissed that idea saying that he was too expensive for them

 

The announcements and new things keep flying in today. BMC has unveiled a new paint job for their Team Machine. Instead of the 'naked carbon' look, they have opted to go white for the Tour de France. 

 

 

Dimension Data is the last team to be holding a press conference today. Theirs got underway at the Tour's press centre just five minutes ago.

 

A little from Contador earlier on sharing the leadership role with Peter Sagan at the Tour de France: "I feel fortunate that I can share the team with Peter. I think he’s one of the classiest riders I’ve seen during my career. He can do everything and he can make the difference in a tactical situation and so its not a problem to be in the same team as Peter, it’s a privilege."

 

And this is what Sagan had to say about his own ambitions: "I want to try win some stages, take the green if possible and help Alberto Contador go for yellow, I think that’s the bigger goal we have.

"I tried to be in yellow for four years, so it is never what happens. I think it’s better not to try, so maybe it will happen. My idea is that if things happen they come along, if you look for them, they don’t happen…"

 

Tour de france organisers the ASO have said that three bikes a day will have cameras capable of sending live images. Something that we've seen tested in recent races. 

 

We have some more bike stuff for you. Earlier to day our very own Josh Evans got close up and personal with Ian Stannard's Pinarello Dogma F8. You can see the pictures here

 

More from Contador earlier today. The Spaniard confirmed that this would not be his last Tour de France but wouldn't say much on where he would be headed next season.

"I’ve also decided that this is not my last Tour. I’ll continue.It will be a unique Tour and it’ll be very tough from the start but for me the last week will be the most important of the race, because the race will be open until the end, because the Queen stage is on the last day in the mountains.

 

“Things are still open, things are going well but noting is closed at the moment. But I’m really calm about it all. I’ll probably be here for two more years but now the most important thing is to concentrate on the Tour. I’ve worked hard to win it. Tinkoff is now my tam and has been since 2012. The team has always supported me. This is the last year and so the best thing I can do is to win the Tour and pay Tinkov back for everything.

 

Away from the Tour de France briefly and the Swiss Cycling Federation has announced their selection for the Olympic Games. Unsurprisingly, Fabian Cancellara has made the cut along with Michael Albasini, Steve Morabito and Sebastien Reichenbach.

 

If you missed the news earlier today, FDJ confirmed that Thibaut Pinot extended for two more years with the team.

 

In an interview with El Pais newspaper, Contador has said that he is close to signing a two-year deal with a new team but doesn't say who it is yet. 

 

Here is more what Contador had to say earlier on in his pre-Tour press conference

 

There are no more press conferences today but there will be plenty tomorrow. Right now, the teams and media are on their way to the team presentation. 

 

One man that isn't going to be at the team presentation is LottoNL-Jumbo sprinter Dylan Groenewegen, who is reportedly suffering with intestinal problems. The team is still confident that the newly crowned Dutch national champion will be on the start line on Saturday.

 

Dimension Data set up at the team presentation

 

 

There are lots of brave fans waiting at the team presentation. There are some pretty threatening skies above them. Let's hope the rain holds off. 

 

 

There has been a few changes to rider numbers. Here is the updated Tour de France start list 

 

There have been a few changes to the riders numbers. Here is the latest Tour de France start list

Most of the teams arrived in France today and they've already got down to work. Check out our training gallery here.

 

The Tour de France isn't the only national tour starting this week. The 2016 Giro d'Italia Internazionale Femminile, often called the Giro Rosa, begins Friday. 

You can read our preview here.

Cannondale riders singing in at the team presentation:

 

Cannondale-Drapac signing on for the #TDF2026 pic.twitter.com/rjkkKnheQb

The crowd at the team presentation just finished watching a video introduction to this year's race as the host brings Tour dignitaries onto the stage.

 

The speeches are over and the teams are taking the stage.

 

First up is Direct Energie with Sylvan Chavanel and Bryan Coquard.

 

In keeping with the WWII theme as the race visits Utah Beach for stage 1, the teams  are getting aloft to the stage in a vintage military vehicle. 

 

Bora-Argon 18 is on stage now. The German Pro Continental team signed a new sponsor and is rumoured to be in the market for Peter Sagan next year.

 

Bora's Sam Bennett says he's done all the proper preparation and hopes to contest the sprint finishes this year.

 

LottoNL-Jumbo is on the stage now, and Wilco Kelderman takes the reins of leadership for the Dutch team. Dylan Groenewegen is ill and not present, but they expect him for the start on Saturday.

 

Sep Vanmarcke says he prefers one-day races like Paris-Roubaix, but he's here to help the team and he needs the Tour in order to get better for the rest of the year.

 

Cannondale-Drapac are riding in the vintage troop-hauler now, sporting the team's new jerseys.

 

The riders have switched to their bikes and are taking the stage

 

In case you missed it earlier, the updated and currently accurate start list is posted here.

 

Pierre Rolland is showing off the English he's learned since signing with the US team. Cannondale is 100 percent Rolland's GC hopes this year, but the team has also got a roster of opportunists to go for stage wins.

 

Trek Segafredo is on the stage now with GC leader Bauke Mollema.

 

Fabian Cancellara is obviously hoping for more days in the yellow jersey in his last Tour. 'Spartacus' gets a huge ovation.

 

IAM Cycling is up next. This will be the Swiss team's last Tour as it will not return next season.

 

The @lampre_merida boys get ready for the teams presentation with a WWII theme near Utah Beach. #TDF2016 #Velon pic.twitter.com/1aXodfXcZY

Rui Costa headlines the Lampre-Merida line up on stage at the team presentation

 

Mark Cavendish and Dimension Data take the stage now.

 

Cavendish says the Tour is the hardest race on the planet, and winning a stage every year is a lot harder than one might think, even for a top sprinter like himself

 

Local dancers and a five-man band are leading Movistar to the podium.

 

Fortuneo Vital Concept is up next.

 

Orica take the stage with their kits featuring new sponsor Bike Exchange.

 

French WorldTour team Cofidis is being introduced. The riders ride down the rap toward the crowd as the next team is called up.

 

It's Team Katusha's turn with leader Joaquim Rodriguez.

 

Powerful stuff seeing D-Day sights. And rad to ride in a #usarmy truck to the #tdf Team… https://t.co/WI4oRfTVyQ

Lotto Soudal get the call.

 

Marcel Kittel leads Etixx-QuickStep onto the stage. 

 

The German sprinter says he's very confident, and he's and happy to be back at the Tour this year.

 

The rock band on stage is filling the time between time with a Tina Turner tune. Its got some of the spectators on site dancing.

 

After the musical interlude, Astana takes the stage. The team has Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru in the line up. Publicly the team is saying Aru is the undisputed leader, but things often change on the road.

 

French favourites AG2R La Mondiale get a warm reception. Romain Bardet is hoping for a good ride the year. The 25-year-old won a stage and was ninth overall last year

 

Now it's Giant-Alpecin's turn. Warren Barguil gets a huge reception.

 

Barguil was 14th last year. he was involved in the horrific training crash earlier this year, but he just finished third overall at the Tour de Suisse.

 

John Degenkolb was also involved in the pre-season crash. He said he's happy to be back at the Tour and will be aiming for stage wins. He's only done 18 race days this year, but he could be in the hunt for a green jersey if he's back on form.

 

The American squad BMC Racing is up next. The US team looks at home in the vintage military truck.

 

The team will be throwing Richie Porte and Tejay van Garderen at the GC this year.

 

Porte says he expects the co-leadership to workout fine. Both he and van Garderen have been flying a bit under the radar, Porte says, and so that should help them in the coming weeks.

 

Paratroopers are escorting FDJ to the stage.

 

Thibaut Pinot will be holding the FDJ hopes this year. The 26-year-old was third the Tour in 2014, and he won the stage to l'Alpe d'Huez last year

 

Contador, Sagan and Tinkoff Team are next.

 

Sagan greets everyone with a big hello, but says he can't remember all the names when asked to introduce the team.

 

Contador introduces "super class" Peter Sagan and says his teammate will hunt for the green jersey.

 

Sagan takes over the presentation of Roman Kreuziger. Maciej Bodnar, Robert Kiserlovski, Oscar Gatto, Matteo Tosatto, Michael Valgren and Rafal Majka

 

 

Movistar is on the stage now with Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde. 

 

Last but not least, Team Sky with two-time winner Chris Froome take the stage

 

Froome addresses the crowd in French, while Geraint Thomas does his interview in English.

 

That's it for the 2016 Tour de France team presentation. Check Cyclingnews later for a photos gallery from today's festivities. 

 

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