PORTE VECCHIO, France (VN) — Without a five-star favorite for outright victory, Jonathan Vaughters is adopting an all-for-one, one-for-all tactic for the Tour de France.
The team is stacked with talent, but lacks a top-flight favorite such as Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) or Chris Froome (Sky). Vaughters is hoping to turn that to his advantage.
“We have four or five guys who have the potential to win the race. It’s very, very, very infinitesimally small we can win the race, but I can dream,” Vaughters said Thursday. “The Tour is always full of surprises. The easy answer is that, yes, it’s Froome versus Contador. We’re here to make that answer not so easy.”
With Froome aiming to stranglehold the race in the same manner as Sky did in 2012, Garmin-Sharp will be looking to rock the boat.
Vaughters is hoping to play his “Musketeers” card deep in the mountains, where the team can cut loose the likes of Ryder Hesjedal, Andrew Talansky, Dan Martin, Tom Danielson, and Christian Vande Velde to try to disrupt Sky’s rhythm.
“All those races we’ve won over the past eight, nine months — the USA Pro Challenge, Catalunya, Liège — all of those races have been built around the basis of the strength of the team. It hasn’t been about the individual rider,” Vaughters continued. “We’ve played an open, aggressive strategy, where three, four, five guys could have won the race. It came down to one guy who did. That is our strength.”
Vaughters admitted narrowing down the list for the Tour Nine was a hard choice, meaning that left home Tour stage-winner Tyler Farrar and time trial motor David Zabriskie.
Instead, he brought an interesting mix of riders, tapping reliable veterans such as Hesjedal, David Millar, and Vande Velde, but also Tour rookies Talansky and Rohan Dennis, indicating those final three will be the pillars upon which the team will be built in the coming years.
The Garmin CEO said he went with his “gut” in making the team selection.
“I had a lot of hesitation before making the final Tour selection,” he said. “Last year, I didn’t go with my gut. David Millar won an incredible stage, but we didn’t have our best Tour last year. This year I went with my gut. It was a hard, hard choice to make.”
He said the most challenging part was getting the team to buy into the idea.
“Each is enormously talented and ambitious. It wasn’t easy to get them to buy into the strategy that everyone is going to play it aggressive,” he said. “You may be the guy that it pays off for. You may be the guy who burns a bunch of matches to benefit a teammate. We don’t have a superstar on this team. We have a bonded group of guys that together can create chaos in the race.”
The riders seemed relaxed and ready to race. If the team follows its script, that will open plenty of opportunities for the team to hunt stages, follow big GC surges when they come, and otherwise be on the sharp end of the action.
“This is the strongest [Tour] team we’ve ever had,” said 2012 Giro d’Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal. “What’s important is the team’s performance. There are many ways that can take shape.”
As the saying goes, the roads will tell the story.