The 103rd edition of the Tour de France starts in Mont-Saint-Michel this Saturday and having won the race on two occasions, Alberto Contador will lead the Tinkoff team, while Peter Sagan, who has won the points jersey every year since 2012, will be looking to take stage wins.
“This will be a very important Tour de France for all of us,” explained Contador ahead of the race. “It will be the Tour in which we would like to show Oleg Tinkov our gratitude for his support all these years. I’m exceptionally motivated for this race and we have been working throughout the year thinking about the Tour de France. Hopefully, everything will play out the way we want.”
Joining Contador and Sagan at the race are two newly crowned national champions in Rafal Majka and Roman Kreuziger. Along with Robert Kiserlovski, the three have all proved strong helpers for Contador in the mountains in the past.
The roster is bolstered by the new Polish time trial champion, Maciej Bodnar who will have the chance to show off his new skinsuit on two occasions.
Matteo Tosatto brings his wealth of experience to the team, and he’s joined by fellow Italian Oscar Gatto who will prove vital for the fast finishes around Peter. The line-up is then completed by Michael Valgren who will start his second Tour de France after his debut in 2015.
Directeur Sportif Steven De Jongh is confident in this two-pronged approach. “We come to the Tour with a very balanced team built around Alberto and Peter as our leaders,” says de Jongh. “With Peter we can go for stage wins on the days that suit him, and then Alberto of course is targeting the GC – that’s our main overall goal.”
The team was built around providing support both for Alberto and Peter, explained De Jongh. “We have guys that can support both riders. With Bodnar, Gatto, Tosatto and Valgren we have strong rouleurs that will play an important role on the flatter stages, and then Gatto will be a good support rider for Peter in the finals. Tosatto’s experience will also be important in playing the bodyguard role for Alberto in these stages.”
“With such a mountainous parcours, providing support for Alberto when the road turns upwards is absolutely essential,” continued De Jongh. “Then for the mountains, Majka, Kreuziger and Kiserlovski will be there to support Alberto. The last week in the Alps will be very hard and they will play an important part on these kind of tough stages. I think it will be an exciting Tour, with two not so flat ITTs, and a large number of GC contenders coming into the race.”
“The Tour de France is one of the major highlights of my season, and I believe that compared to last season, where I didn’t manage to win a stage win, this year I’ll reach my goal and win something,” explained the UCI world road race champion, Peter Sagan. “I have no particular selected day that suits me, but I am convinced that this year’s route includes stages that conform to my style of racing.
“Of course the green jersey is for me a big challenge. The cold and hard stages in Switzerland took a lot out of me, and the national championships was also not easy. So after the first days of the Tour I will know how I am really feeling. Our whole team has high ambitions and I am convinced that Alberto will prove successful. When I can, I’ll be there to help him. Let’s see what each new day will bring and we will appropriately adjust our tactics.”