2013 Tour de France: Teams

Ag2r La Mondiale (Fra)

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What does the sponsor do? Insurance company
Team Manager: Vincent Lavenu
Established: 1992 (Chazal, Petit-Casino, Casino-Ag2R La Prevoyance, Ag2R La Prevoyance)
Past stars: Nicholas Roche, Cyril Dessel, Jaan Kirsipuu, Laurent Brochard, Jean Patrick-Nazon, Christope Moreau, Francisco Mancebo.
2012 Tour: Nothing of note to be honestNicholas Roche wound his way around to twelth, but mostly anonymous.
Kit: Kuota Frames, SRAM groupset, Odio clothing
The Big Question:
Can they actually do anything other then simply plucky breakaways?

Romain Bardet (Fra)
Maxime Bouet (Fra)
Samuel Dumoulin (Fra)
Hubert Dupont (Fra)
John Gadret (Fra)
Blel Kadri (Fra)
Sebastien Minard (Fra)
Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra)
Christophe Riblon (Fra)

Ag2R have assembled the same type of squad they always do – a collection of puncheurs and barodeurs who could sneak a stage win if they’re lucky, but they’ll really need the luck. Dumoulin and Riblon have both won a stage before, but  no one else has – Gadret has done well in the Giro before, and Peraud has been top 10 after turning pro late after mountain biking, but it’s unlikely that they’ll get anyone to those lofty heights this year, as all their best riders (Betancur, Pozzovivo) were at the Giro instead.

Argos-Shimano (Ned)

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What does the sponsor do? Argos is a oil company in the North Sea, Shimano are the producers of cycling drivetrains, wheels, and most of the teams kit under their ‘Pro’ brand.
Team Manager: Iwan Spenkenbrink
Established: 2005 (Shimano-Memory Corp, Skil-Shimano, 1t4i)
Past stars: Martin Tjallingi, Kenny Van Hummel, Sebastian Langeveld)
2012 Tour: Somewhat ruined when main man Marcel Kittel succumbed to illness in the first week. The remnants of his leadout train battled to a couple of podium finishes however.
Kit:
Felt frames, Shimano Groupset, Pearl Izumi clothing
The Big Question: Can Deglenkob and Kittel challenge the established sprinters and coexist with one another?

Roy Curvers (Ned)
John Degenkolb (Ger)
Tom Dumoulin (Ned)
Johannes Frohlinger (Ger)
Simon Geschke (Ger)
Marcel Kittel (Ger)
Koen de Kort (Ned)
Albert Timmer (Ned)
Tom Veelers (Ned)

To avoid last years problems, where Kittel got ill and basically meant the team was null and void, they are bringing both Deglenkob and Kittel, which should be an interesting cohabitation, even if they insist that they won’t get in each others way given Kittel is the pure sprinter and Deglenkob the man for lumpy power days. The team is essentially built around them and their leadout, but Simon Geschke is a strong man on hilly days, and could be a man to watch in the breaks.

Astana (Kaz)

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What does the sponsor do? Astana is a consortium of Kazakh businesses put together by the government and Alexandre Vinokourov, named after the countries capital.
Team Manager: Giuseppe Martinelli
Established: 2006 (Technically 2007 as a descendent of the 1989 founded ONCE team.)
Past stars: Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Andreas Kloden, Paolo Salvoldelli, Oscar Pereiro.
2012 Tour: Frederik Kessiakoff was their main man, and salvaged a bit of pride by taking it to eventual winner Thomas Voeckler in the King of the mountains competition, eventually coming second. Vinokourov got the combativity prize one day, but his big prize was to come for a week later in the road race at the Olympics.
Kit:
Specialised bikes, Campagnolo groupsets, Nalini clothing.
The Big Question: How will they cope with talisman Vino, and is Fugulsang as good as he thinks he is?

Assan Bazayev (Kaz)
Janez Brajkovic (Slo)
Jakob Fuglsang (Den)
Enrico Gasparotto (Ita)
Francesco Gavazzi (Ita)
Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz)
Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe)
Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz)
Dmitri Muravyev (Kaz)

Having won the Giro, Astana have sent their B-team as such to the Tour, but just because Nibali isn’t present doesnt mean they’re no good. Gasparotto is a good rider, Kessiakoff was excellent in the Tour and the Vuelta last year and Brajkovic and Fugulsang are solid top 15 riders – Brajkovic was 9th last year. However, the heady heights of the podium that Fugulsang left Radioshack with the intent to reach seem a bit of a pipe dream.

Belkin (Ned)

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What does the sponsor do? Belkin are a communications giant who probably make the internet router you have.
Team Manager: Nico Verhoeven
Established: 1984 (Kwantum, Superconfex, Buckler, Wordperfect, Novell, Rabobank, Blanco)
Past stars: Zoop Zoetemelk, Steven Rooks, Michael Boogerd, Michael Rasmussen, Denis Menchov, Oscar Freire, Juan Antonio Flecha
2012 Tour: A last tour as Rabobank was rescued by Luis leon Sanchez’s stage win, as Robert Gesink was floored by crashes.
Kit:
Giant bicycles, Shimano groupsets, Giant clothing
The Big Question: Will Mollema take the step up, and will the relaxation of pressure on Gesink allow him to thrive?

Lars Boom (Ned)
Laurens ten Dam (Ned)
Robert Gesink (Ned)
Tom Leezer (Ned)
Bauke Mollema (Ned)
Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor)
Bram Tankink (Ned)
Sep Vanmarcke (Bel)
Maarten Wynants (Bel)

Belkin are bringing a new sponsor and a fresh looking attack minded team to the Tour – if any one of these men aside from the GC focused Mollema/Gesink group get in a break, it’s probably going to do well. Nordhaug is a powerful Norwegian, Boom and Vanmarke showed they could ride with the best at Paris-Roubaix and Ten Dam keeps delivering strong placing’s every year. Shame about the bogey green though.

BMC Racing (USA)

Read nothing into the fact Van Garderen and Evans are as far from as each other as possible...
Read nothing into the fact Van Garderen and Evans are as far from as each other as possible…

What does the sponsor do? BMC is the acronym for Bicycle Making Company, and that is what they do.
Team Manager: Gavin Chilcott
Established: 2007
Past stars: George Hincapie
2012 Tour: Evans was defending champion and battled valiently in the first week, until his teammate Van Garderen began to find his mountain legs and overtook his leader on the road and overall in the final time trial to take the white jersey and 5th overall.
Kit:
BMC bicycles, Shimano groupset, Pearl izumi clothing
The Big Question:
Can Evans really regain his 2011 form, or will Van Garderen end up leader – or is Van Garderen actually overrated?

Brent Bookwalter (USA)
Marcus Burghardt (Ger)
Cadel Evans (Aus)
Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
Amael Moinard (Fra)
Steve Morabito (Sui)
Manuel Quinziato (Ita)
Michael Schar (Sui)
Tejay van Garderen (USA)

BMC have brought the nucleus of the 2011 Tour winning team, with only Van Garderen and world champion Gilbert coming into the team. This suggests Evans has been given an amount of control over the squad given he speaks of the 2011 team as his ‘guardian angels’, and Van Garderen will surely have to play ball unless Evans gets dropped, but it’s important to stress that Van Garderen has been a perfect teammate so far. Gilbert will simply be desperate to get a win in the rainbow jersey, which has so far eluded him this year.

Cannondale (Ita)

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What does the sponsor do? Cannondale make bicycles
Team Manager: Roberto Amado
Established: 1999 (Liguigas, Liguigas-Doimo, Liguigas-Bianchi, Liguigas-Cannondale)
Past stars:Vincenzo Nibali, Danilo Di Luca, Magnus Backstedt, Mario Cipollini, Stefano Garzelli
2012 Tour: As Liguigas, Nibali was the aggresor of the race as he made third behind Sky’s TT dominance, whilst Peter Sagan took three wins, many intermediate sprints, the green jersey and all whilst coming up with a myriad of entertaining celebrations.
Kit:
Cannondale bicycles, Sram groupsets, Sugoi clothing
The Big Question:
Can Sagan repeat last years success, and can Moser be ‘the new Sagan?’

Maciej Bodnar (Pol)
Alessandro De Marchi (Ita)
Ted King (USA)
Kristijan Koren (Slo)
Alan Marangoni (Ita)
Moreno Moser (Ita)
Fabio Sabatini (Ita)
Peter Sagan (Svk)
Brian Vandborg (Den)

This is the Peter Sagan show in the absence of Ivan Basso, but the team is nto a one man army – Moreno Moser possesses a terrific kick, and his debut at the Tour is eagerly anticipated. Sabatini and Bodnar have what it takes to drive breaks, and the rest of the team will consistently pull back breaks for the team’s two stars.

Cofidis (Fra)

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What does the sponsor do? They provide credit over the telephone and online.
Team Manager: Yvon Sanquer
Established: 1997
Past stars: Jimmy Casper, Samuel Dumoulin, David Millar, Lance Armstrong, Stuart O’Grady,  Bobby Julich, David Moncutie
2012 Tour: Rein Taaramae briefly looked like being the surprise package at the first mountain finish. That was as good as it got in another anonymous performance.
Kit:
Look bicycles, Campagnolo groupset, Onda clothing
The Big Question:
Can they ever regain the heady heights of the early noughties and win a stage, rather then just appearing in breaks?

Yoann Bagot (Fra)
Jerome Coppel (Fra)
Egoitz Garcia (Spa)
Christophe Le Mevel (Fra)
Guillaume Levarlet (Fra)
Luis Angel Mate (Spa)
Rudy Molard (Fra)
Daniel Navarro (Spa)
Rein Taaramae (Est)

Taaramae ,Navarro, Coppel andLe Mevel are on paper a quite impressive unit that should be able to challenge for the top 10. However, their best positions are 11th, 48th, 13th and 10th respectively, so it’s tricky to see them really improving on that. Still, they’ll try, and be in the break every day no doubt.

Europcar (Fra)

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What does the sponsor do? They rent cars.
Team Manager: Jean-Rene Bernadeau
Established: 2000 (Bonjour, Brioches La Boulangère, Bouygues Telecom, BBox Bouyges Telecom)
Past stars: Jerome Pineau, Sylvain Chavanel, Walter Beneateau
2012 Tour: Above expectations as Rolland won at La Touissure thanks to epic teamwork in the breakaway, plus Thomas Voeckler won two stages and the King of the Mountains, which combined with Rolland’s 8th overall was a strong performance.
Kit:
Colnago frames, Campagnolo groupset, Louis Garneau clothing
The Big Question:
Can Rolland step up to the top 5/podium territory?

Yukiya Arashiro (Jap)
Jerome Cousin (Fra)
Cyril Gautier (Fra)
Yohann Gene (Fra)
Davide Malacarne (Ita)
Kevin Reza (Fra)
Pierre Rolland (Fra)
David Veilleux (Can)
Thomas Voeckler (Fra)

This team is all about Voeckler and Rolland, with the former trying to win stages and the latter looking to get himself into podium contention. With less time trialling and a more aggresive course then 2012, Rolland should be in with a shot if he turns up in the same from as 2011.

Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spa)

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What does the sponsor do? Theyre a Basque cycling foundation and a mobile phone network provider
Team Manager: Miguel Madariaga
Established: 1994 (Euskadi-Petronor, Equipo Euskatel)
Past stars: Joseba Beloki,Iban Mayo, Haimar Zubeldia, Amets Txurruka, David Extebarria
2012 Tour: They swear they were there, despite what you might think
Kit:
Orbea bicycles, Shimano groupset, Bioracer kit
The Big Question:
Can Anton revive his 2010 Vuelta form and conjure up a result?

Igor Anton (Spa)
Mikel Astarloza (Spa)
Gorka Izaguirre (Spa)
Ion Izaguirre (Spa)
Juan Jose Lobato (Spa)
Mikel Nieve (Spa)
Juanjo Oroz (Spa)
Ruben Perez (Spa)
Romain Sicard (Fra)

Anton is the leader for Euskatel, who dont brign Sanchez after his Giro efforts. Sicard, the past U23 champion, is here as well, though he has stagnated in recent years. They’ll be in lots of breaks, especially Nieve and Astarloza (yes, he of the positive EPO test in 2009) but anything more then that will be treated as a victory.

FDJ (Fra)

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What does the sponsor do? It’s the French lottery
Team Manager: Marc Madiot
Established: 1997 (Francais  des Jeux, FDJ-BigMatt)
Past stars: Phillipe Gilbert, Baden Cooke, Bradley McGee, Frederic Gusedon, Christophe Le Mevel
2012 Tour: Thibaut Pinot won a stage and got 10th overall at the tender age of 21, whislt Pierrick Fedrigo won a stage
Kit:
Lapierre frames, Shimano groupset, MOA clothing
The Big Question:
How good is Pinot, and can he be the best Frenchman…or even make the podium?

William Bonnet (Fra)
Nacer Bouhanni (Fra)
Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra)
Murilo Fischer (Bra)
Alexandre Geniez (Fra)
Arnold Jeannesson (Fra)
Thibaut Pinot (Fra)
Jeremy Roy (Fra)
Arthur Vichot (Fra)

The bet French team on paper arguably, given they have the French champion in Vichot, young climbers like Jeannesson and Pinot, stage hunters like Fedrigo, Geniez and Roy and the entertaining sprinter Nacer Bouhanni. It’ll be Pinot everyone will want to watch though, after his 10th place on his debut aged just 21 last year. They appear to be the only team who’ve gone for a special Tour de France kit, going for an all blue ensemble which is quite nice – unfortunately it means the glorious all white ensemble is now the sole preserve of Argos-Shimano.

Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda (USA)

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What does the sponsor do? Garmin make GPS units, Sharp are a japanese electronics manufacturer, Barracuda are a telecommunications producer.
Team Manager: Jonathan Vaughters
Established: 2005 (5280/Subaru, TIAA–CREF, Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle, Garmin-Chipotle Presented by H3O, Garmin-Slipstream, Garmin-Transitions, Team Garmin-Cervélo, Team Garmin-Barracuda)
Past stars: Bradley Wiggins, Thor Hushovd, Heinrich Haussler, Magnus Backstedt.
2012 Tour: Massacred at Metz, Garmin didn’t put anyone in the top10 for the first time since they first rode the Tour, and only had a win by David Millar to make up for their abysmal GC performance.
Kit:
Cervelo bicycles, Shimano groupset, Castelli clothing
The Big Question:
Can they surprise in the GC once again?

Andrew Talansky (USA)
Christian Vande Velde (USA)
Dan Martin (Irl)
David Millar (GBr)
Jack Bauer (Nzl)
Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu)
Rohan Dennis (Aus)
Ryder Hesjedal (Can)
Tom Danielson (USA)

Only the three dopers this time round for Vaughter’s boys, who have seemingly given up on the Team time trial they always used to target and left guarenteed 4th-2nd place finisher Tyler Farrar at home. The team is strong on paper, but seems to lack direction – Vaughters says they will ’cause chaos’, but chaos seems more likely in their own team. MArtin, Talanksy & Hesjedal could all lead teams in their own right, so picking one would seemingly be the better option, but instead they’re going with the spread betting. Navardauskas will be in the breaks, and Rohan Dennis could do well int he time trials.

Katusha (Rus)

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What does the sponsor do?  Katusha is a conglomerate of Russian companies
Team Manager: Vyacheslav Ekimov
Established: 2009
Past stars: Fillipo Pozzato, Denis Menchov, Gert Steegamans, Robbie McEwen, Vladimir Karpets
2012 Tour: Menchov hung around for a while, then he and the team dissapeared without trace.
Kit:
Canyon frames, Shimano groupests, Santini clothing
The Big Question:
Can Rodriguez crack the podium or better?

Pavel Brutt (Rus)
Alexander Kristoff (Nor)
Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr)
Alberto Losada (Spa)
Daniel Moreno (Spa)
Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa)
Gatis Smukulis (Lat)
Yuriy Trofimov (Rus)
Eduard Vorganov (Rus)

Moreno and Rodriguez will be good bets for top positions, and Rodriguez is my personal bet for the race in its entirety, assuming he can get past Mont St Michel without haemorraghing time. Kristoff is a Russian clone of John Deglenkob, whilst everyone else will be worth watching in breaks.

Lampre-Merida (Ita)

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What does the sponsor do? Lampre make sheet metal, Merida make bicycles
Team Manager: Fabrizio Bontempi
Established: 1991 (Lampre-ISD/Farnese Vini/NCG/Colnago/Fondital/Caifita/Daikin/Poilti/Painara)
Past stars: Alessandro Pettachi, Gilberto Simoni, Alessandro Ballan, Daniele Bennati
2012 Tour: Scarponi was way off the pace, as was the test of the team.
Kit:
Merida bicycles, Shimano groupset, Santini clothing
The Big Question:
Asked a  million times before but can Cunego return to his 2004 vintage?

Matteo Bono (Ita)
Davide Cimolai (Ita)
Damiano Cunego (Ita)
Elia Favilli (Ita)
Roberto Ferrari (Ita)
Adriano Malori (Ita)
Manuele Mori (Ita)
Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol)
Jose Serpa (Col)

The danger here is that Niemiec beats Cunego, which is likely given his run at the Giro. Cunego did well last time he was at the race in 2011, but don’t expect fireworks. Those might come from ROberto Ferrari, one of Mark Cavendish’s favourite *ahem* buddies, but he’ll probably not be up their with the main sprinters.

Lotto-Belisol (Bel)

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What does the sponsor do? Lotto is the Belgian lottery, Belisol make energy safe products
Team Manager: Marc Seargeant
Established: 1985 (Lotto, Davitamon-Lotto, Silence-Lotto, Predicter-Lotto, Omega Pharma-Lotto)
Past stars: Phillipe Gilbert, Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen, Peter Van Petegem, Tom Steels
2012 Tour: Greipel won three stages, Van den Broeck got 4th despite losing time to a puncture and animated the mountain stages.
Kit:
Ridley bicycles, Campagnolo groupset, Vermarc clothing
The Big Question:
Can the team sustain Van den Broeck’s podium ambitions and get Greipel to green as well?

Lars Bak (Den)
Bart De Clercq (Bel)
Andre Greipel (Ger)
Adam Hansen (Aus)
Greg Henderson (NZl)
Jurgen Roelandts (Bel)
Marcel Sieberg (Ger)
Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel)
Frederik Willems (Bel)

Another very strong team even without Greipel and Van den Broeck – Roelandts was third in Flnaders, and Lars Bak, Sieberg and Hansen are all machines. Add Greipel to the end of that however and you have the best lead out in cycling at the moment. Van den Broeck has Giro stage winner De Clerq with his for support, as Vanendert is ill, but his poor display at the Dauphine is surely cause for concern. Luckily, Greipel should deliver if the Belgian flails.

Movistar (Spa)

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What does the sponsor do? O2’s Spanish equivalent
Team Manager: Josa Luis Jaimerena
Established: 1980 (Reynolds, Banesto, Illes Ballears, Caisse d’Eperange)
Past stars: Pedro Delgado, Miguel indurain, Franciso Mancebo, Denis Menchov
2012 Tour: Valverde won the last summit finish, Rojas couldnt repeat his 2011 form.
Kit:
Pinarello bicycles, Campagnolo Groupset, Nalini clothing
The Big Question:
Valverde or Quintana?

Andrey Amador (CRC)
Jonathan Castroviejo (Spa)
Rui Costa (Por)
Imanol Erviti (Spa)
Ivan Gutierrez (Spa)
Ruben Plaza (Spa)
Nairo Quintana (Col)
Jose Joaquin Rojas (Spa)
Alejandro Valverde (Spa)

Valverde is supposedly the leader, but the concesncus is that Quintana might be the better bet. Valverde never performs in France really, but Quintana and Amador are able back up. JJ Rojas would dearly love to be back to his 2011 form where he challenged strongly for Green.

Omega Pharma-QuickStep (Bel)

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What does the sponsor do? OP makes pharacuticals, QS make flooring
Team Manager: Patrick Lefevre
Established: 2003 (Quick Step, Quick Step-Davitamon, Quick Step, Quick Step-Innergetic)
Past stars: Fillipo Pozzato, Nick Nuyens, Peter Van Petegem, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Gert Steegmans, Stijn Devolder, Gerald Ciolek
2012 Tour: Another anonymous display in theirbogey event as Martin and Chavanel were injured/ill
Kit:
Specialised bikes, Sram groupset, Vermarc clothing
The Big Question:
Are the flaws in the leadout train ironed out for Cavendish?

Mark Cavendish (GBr)
Sylvain Chavanel (Fra)
Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol)
Tony Martin (Ger)
Jerome Pineau (Fra)
Gert Steegmans (Bel)
Niki Terpstra (Ned)
Matteo Trentin (Ita)
Peter Velits (Svk)

Cavendish desperately wants the yellow jersey on day one, and green in Paris. The team doesnt have the appearance of a lead out train, as Chavanel, Pineau and Kwiatowski are more orientated to the punchy days. Martin, Trentin, Terpstra and Steegmans would appear to be the train after Terpstra’s transformations. If it works, Cavendish should win lots, if not, he’ll still win, but not as much. It’s a shame Boonen’s not around though.

Orica-GreenEdge (Aus)

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What does the sponsor do? Orica are a mining company, GreenEdge are a token ‘blank’ brand.
Team Manager: Neil Stephens
Established: 2011
Past stars:  Robbie McEwen, Julian Dean
2012 Tour: Goss was there and there abouts in the sprints, but never got near the win.
Kit:
Scott frames, Shimano gears, Santini clothing
The Big Question:
Can they win a stage with their collection of strong men, and whatcan Cameron Meyer do int he GC?

Michael Albasini (Swi)
Simon Clarke (Aus)
Simon Gerrans (Aus)
Matt Goss (Aus)
Daryl Impey (RSA)
Brett Lancaster (Aus)
Cameron Meyer (Aus)
Stuart O’Grady (Aus)
Svein Tuft (Can)

A slow erosion of Matt Goss’s leadership continues as his sprint seems to be reduced. Gerrans and Albasini seem the better bet for a stage win, but it’s Meyer who is interesting – the former team pursuit man seems to be turning into a strong climber. Can he be the surprise of the Tour?

RadioShack-Leopard-Trek (Lux)

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What does the sponsor do? RadioShack make electronics.
Team Manager: Luca Guercliena
Established: 2011 (Leopard-Trek, Radioshack-Nissan-Trek)
Past stars: Jacob Fugulsang, Fabian Wegemann, Linus Gerdermann, Stuart O’Grady
2012 Tour: F. Schleck left after his Xipamide positive, A.Schleck didn’t start, and Zubeldia finished 6th.
Kit:
Trek bicycles, Shimano groupset, Craft clothing
The Big Question:
Just what is Schleck’s condition?

Jan Bakelants (Bel)
Laurent Didier (Lux)
Tony Gallopin (Fra)
Markel Irizar (Spa)
Andreas Kloden (Ger)
Maxime Monfort (Bel)
Andy Schleck (Lux)
Jens Voigt (Ger)
Haimar Zubeldia (Spa)

So what is Schleck up to? That’s the problem Radioshack have. One of Zubeldia and Kloden should be able to get up the leaders board regardless, but Schleck seems to be playign psychological games. He’s never been that good before the Tour, but he’s never appeared this bad either. So is he bluffing or is he just going to get dropped on stage two? Probably the latter, but if he gets to the Pyrennees within 20-30 secs of the GC men…Elsewhere, Voigt will attack in what is probably his last Tour, and Monfort and Gallopin will put on a attacking show that will most likely come to nought. They’d happily trade in their mothers to get Cancellara to ride.

Saxo-Tinkoff (Den)

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What does the sponsor do? Saxo Bank and Tinkoff bank do what they say on the tin.
Team Manager: Bjarne Riis
Established: 2001 (Memory Card-Jack and Jones, CSC-Tiscali, CSC, CSC-SaxoBank, SaxoBank)
Past stars: Carlos Sastre, Ivan Basso, Andy Schleck, Frank Schleck, Jens Voigt, Fabian Cancellara, Stuart O’Grady, Tyler Hamilton, David Zabriske, Bradley McGee, Bobby Julich, Laurent Jalabert.
2012 Tour: Without the banned Contador they were reduced to attacking, alot. Won the combativity prize.
Kit:
Specialised bikes, Sram gears, Sportful clothing
The Big Question:
Can Contador really challenge Froome?

Daniele Bennati (Ita)
Alberto Contador (Spa)
Jesus Hernandez (Spa)
Roman Kreuziger (Cze)
Benjamin Noval (Spa)
Sergio Paulinho (Por)
Nicolas Roche (Irl)
Michael Rogers (Aus)
Matteo Tosatto (Ita)

Contador has the support of Rogers, Kreuziger and Roche to try and win his 3rd (he’d say 4th) Tour, and it’s arguably the strongest backup he’s ever had, given he has the same collection of Spanish amigos. Bennati is an odd choice, but will probably be the man to protect Contador in the bunch and get a chance in lumpy stages. All about Contador however, and if this team can out drag Sky.

Sojasun (Fra)

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What does the sponsor do? Makes Soy food.
Team Manager: Stephan Heulot
Established: 2009 (Besson Chaussures-Sojasun, Saur-Sojasun)
Past stars: Jerome Coppel, Jimmy Casper
2012 Tour: Er…they were there, but they did very little
Kit:
BH frame, Shimano groupset, Nalini clothing
The Big Question:
Can they justify their invite at the expense of MTN and IAM?

Anthony Delaplace (Fra)
Julien El Fares (Fra)
Brice Feillu (Fra)
Jonathan Hivert (Fra)
Cyril Lemoine (Fra)
Jean-Marc Marino (Fra)
Julien Simon (Fra)
Maxime Mederel (Fra)
Alexis Vuillermoz (Fra)

Personally they shouldn’t be there, but they are so it’s tough. Feillu won a stage in 2009 and will want to try again, and everyone else will jus tbe trying to infiltrate breaks, because they don’t have anyone with the ability to do anything better unfortunately.

Sky Pro Cycling (GBr)

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What does the sponsor do? Television broadcaster
Team Manager: David Brailsford
Established: 2010
Past stars: Simon Gerrans, lars Peter Nordhaug, Michael Rogers, Juan Antonio Flecha
2012 Tour: Wiggins won, Froome was second, and they won six stages thanks to those two and Mark Cavendish.
Kit:
Pinarello bicycles, Shimano groupset, Rapha clothing
The Big Question:
Can Froome handle the pressure?

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor)
Chris Froome (GBr)
Peter Kennaugh (GBr)
Vasil Kiryienka (Blr)
David Lopez (Spa)
Richie Porte (Aus)
Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr)
Ian Stannard (GBr)
Geraint Thomas (GBr)

Any team which uses Boasson Hagen as a cart horse is frankly overpowered, although Sky haven’t sent their strongest ‘on paper’ team to the Tour. Instead, there is a good mix of climbers and roleurs, suggesting the thing the TTT and the first week is very important, as the climbing bunch doesnt look as powerful as last year. Still, Froome and Porte could both get on the podium, and Froome is way out in front as favourite. Whether he can push through the hype and win on some mythical climbs is purely up to him.

Vacansoleil-DCM (Ned)

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What does the sponsor do? Luxury camping holidays
Team Manager: Hilaire Van der Schueren
Established: 2009 (Vacansoleil)
Past stars: Riccardo Ricco, Stijn Devolder
2012 Tour: Not a lot to report…
Kit:
Bianchi bicycles, Campagnolo groupset, Santini components
The Big Question:
Can they find a performance to attract a new sponsor?

Kris Boeckmans (Bel)
Thomas De Gendt (Bel)
Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa)
Johnny Hoogerland (Ned)
Sergey Lagutin (Uzb)
Wout Poels (Ned)
Boy van Poppel (Ned)
Danny van Poppel (Ned)
Lieuwe Westra (Ned)

Westra and De Gendt have the ability to do well overall if they have the form, whilst Hoogerland, the new Dutch Champion, will be keen to actually do something memorable instead of being remembered as the barbed wire guy. He’ll need to – the team don;t have a sponsor at the end of the year.

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