Unsung Spanish team Footon-Servetto will line up in Rotterdam determined to prove it deserves a chance to be in the Tour de France.
The team was guaranteed an automatic bid under existing rules, but many thought other teams were more worthy of a Tour spot than the retrofitted Spanish squad. The team was rocked by scandal when Riccardo Riccò and Leonardo Piepoli each tested positive for CERA during the 2008 Tour.
The squad decided to rebuild with young, perhaps cheaper, riders and will start July 3 with eight Tour rookies.
“It’s true that we’ll be in the Tour with eight rookies, but I think this lack of experience will be more than made up for motivation of being able to race in a competition that’s a dream come true for most,” said team manager Joxean Fernández Matxin. “We come with a balanced team, with riders who can be ahead in the mountains, sneak into breakaways and two fast men — Cardoso and Felline — we hope can be protagonists in the first week.”
The team has quietly won five races so far in 2010, and notched nearly a dozen second places, including two runner-up spots in the recent Critérium du Dauphiné.
The team won’t have a GC threat, but instead will be looking to put men into breakaways and should be one of the top animators of the race. Riders such as Eros Capecchi, Arkaitz Durán and Iban Mayoz can climb well enough to sneak into moves in the second and third weeks.
“Our objective is to fight for partial victories, and we should put ourselves in breakaways and be aggressive, something we’ve been doing all season long,” Fernández said. “The other option is in the sprints, though we don’t have a pure sprinter, Cardoso has already demonstrated he can be with the best and Felline, even though he starts without pressure to even finish the race, we know has a lot of class.”
Footon-Servetto for Tour de France
Fabio Felline (ITA) *
Giampaolo Cheula (ITA)
Manuel Cardoso (POR)
Markus Eibegger (AUT)
Rafael Valls (all SPA)
• Youngest rider in Tour at 20