The start of the Tour de France may be nearly six months away but that hasn’t prevented Quick Step Floors team manager Patrick Lefevere from naming five riders who should be lining up at the start of the three-week race for the Belgian team.

Lefevere announced that barring any setbacks, Irish rider Dan Martin will start for the team along with Marcel Kittel, Fernando Gaviria, Bob Jungels and Gianluca Brambilla. He made the announcement at the team presentation at D-Hotel in Kortrijk.

Martin had his best ever finish in the Tour de France last year when he finished in 9th position and less than three minutes from a podium position. He also claimed five top ten stage placings including 2nd behind Chris Froome (Team Sky) on the eighth stage to Bagnères-de-Luchon. The team also took a stage win with Marcel Kittel taking the fourth stage from Saumur to Limoges.

Etixx-Quick Step finished the season 2016 in seventh place in the UCI rankings, but the team had the most number of wins (57), one more than the year before.

“Included in our victories were nine wins in the Grand Tours and the World Championship team time trial,” said Lefevere. “We were the team with the most victories. Those are impressive numbers that make me happy and proud for the fifth year in a row, but also give us the motivation to reach new highs in the coming season.”

The 2017 Tour de France starts with a 13-kilometre individual time-trial in Dusseldorf on 1 July.

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