25 Jun 2014 - 15:06

Tour de France Preview: A Tour for Climbers

Trek Factory Racing has released the nine names that will take the ‘Grand Départ’ in Yorkshire for the 2014 Tour de France. The team’s two main goals: finishing top 10 in the general classification and pocketing a stage win.

The roster: Fabian Cancellara, Fränk Schleck, Andy Schleck, Haimar Zubeldia, Jens Voigt, Matthew Busche, Markel Irizar, Gregory Rast, and Danny van Poppel.

“This edition of the Tour de France is characterized as one for the mountain goats, even the parcours of the TT has lots of climbing. Fränk and Haimar are two riders with experience in GC; they have shown what they are worth and they have our trust. Climbers who are in good shape can hold a GC. We will support them with the best possible. With Andy and Matthew to help out in the mountain stages and strong rouleurs like Jens, Markel and Rasty, they are well surrounded.

- GM Luca Guercilena

One stage that Trek Factory Racing will highlight is stage five, a made-to-order parcours for the Spring Classics specialists with its nine cobbled sectors. It is a day feared by the GC contenders - where the Tour will not be won, but could be lost – and a day welcomed by the pavé purists.  However, General Manager Luca Guercilena cautions, it may suit three time Paris-Roubaix winner Fabian Cancellara’s strengths, but it is not the sole focus of the team as the cobbled stage five is not the same as racing a true Spring Classic.

“Fabian is a favorite for the cobblestone stage, but like many other riders he’s in the Tour to be competitive every day, not only for one stage. Sure it’s a good day for him because it’s pavé, but it’s not a “Classic during a Grand Tour” - it’s a lot shorter, so the scenario will be very different than in April!” 

- GM Luca Guercilena

Depending on how the flatter stages play out there could be up to nine opportunities for the sprinters. For Danny van Poppel, 20, it’s a titanic challenge, but last year - in his first Tour ever - he sprinted to a stunning third place in the opening road stage. One year later the budding young sprinter, already a few victories taller, will try to repeat this feat and measure his fast legs against the world’s best sprinters.

“Danny could be the ‘joker’ in the first week, he will not have a lead out train, but we saw last year he did not have any help with his team and he made third in the first stage. We know it’s a big stage for him, but he can do it, he has no pressure. I saw in Switzerland, with only Fabian and ‘Greggy’ helping him, that it worked out well. He is able to find his way without a train.”

- GM Luca Guercilena

Andy Schleck and Matthew Busche will be the key support riders for the team’s GC riders in the high mountains.

“Andy will ride in support of Fränk and Haimar in the climbs.  He will not have a personal focus on the GC. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we’re lining him up as a support rider for his brother and for Haimar: Andy may not have won a stage in the Tour de Suisse, but he raced well. His prologue wasn’t bad and he was racing aggressively in the last stage. He showed a lot of desire, and he has progressed since the Classics. Riders of his stature should have the opportunity to compete in the race that made them great.”

- GM Luca Guercilena

American Matthew Busche is the sole rider of the nine-man team who has never raced the most distinguished of the Grand Tours.  Taking the start will be one of his biggest goals checked off the bucket list of the former college running star.

“Matthew has deserved his spot. He suffered the hamstring injury at the end of the Dauphiné but he has no National Championships this week and still has 12 days to prepare. He’s a strong guy, he’s smart, we have to remember he almost won a stage last year in the Dauphiné - he can be a dark-horse to win a stage from a breakaway.”

- GM Luca Guercilena

In the other extreme, Jens Voigt will be lining up in his 17th Tour de France, tying the record for the most appearances. Always the opportunist, ‘Jensie’ will certainly pick a day or two that suit his breakaway expertise, and make sure his last Tour is as thrilling as his first.

Share
General Classification
Vincenzo Nibali
Astana
1
Alejandro Valverde
MOVISTAR
+4'37"
2
Thibaut Pinot
FDJ.fr
+5'06"
2
Trek Factory Racing
+12'38"
11
Trek Factory Racing
+17'37"
14
Trek Factory Racing
+2:18'08"
72
Trek Factory Racing
+2:42'28"
94
Trek Factory Racing
+2:44'18"
98
Trek Factory Racing
+2:55'52"
118