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Tour de France

Garmin reveals focused Tour roster, leaves off Millar

Garmin-Sharp will go to the 2014 Tour de France with a roster built to help Andrew Talansky battle with the bigs

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The Garmin-Sharp team showed its general classification hand Monday morning, revealing a very specific roster amassed to help Andrew Talansky as much as possible come Leeds and his second Tour de France campaign.

Talansky finished 10th in his maiden Tour last year, and he stole the Critérium du Dauphiné this year from Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) with a daring, exciting ride on the final day. That ride didn’t seem to change the focus of Garmin’s Tour team — top brass Jonathan Vaughters said he would favor a more targeted team selection this year — but it has certainly raised excitement levels.

The team includes Tom-Jelte Slagter, Sebastian Langeveld, Johan Vansummeren, Janier Acevedo, Ramunas Navardauskas, and Jack Bauer. Garmin will also bring Tour rookies Ben King and Alex Howes, both youthful Americans.

“In years past we have approached the Tour with multiple leaders and multiple goals,” said Jonathan Vaughters, the CEO of Garmin-Sharp, in a release. “This year, we approach it with one clear leader, Andrew Talansky, and our roster is designed to give him the best support possible.”

Talansky will need all the help he can get against a stacked field that’s now even more wary of his attacks.

“Andrew will bring more confidence to the Tour, but we will make our own race. There are the big favorites with Froome and Contador, and then a lot of others behind them,” Garmin director Bingen Fernández told VeloNews’ Andrew Hood recently. “Andrew was 10th last year, and perhaps he can move even higher, but there are many factors and different players that affect the outcome of the Tour.”

The team, for all its strengths, has been noticed for what it doesn’t include as well: David Millar, in his final road season. Had he taken the start in Leeds, it would have given the Scot his 13th Tour start. The Tour is a race in which Millar has won four individual stages (though he requested a 2003 win be stricken due to admitted PED use in the Tour run-up), plus a team time trial.

Ultimately, that wasn’t meant to be.

“Selecting the final nine for our Tour is a very difficult task,” said Director Charly Wegelius in a team release. “This year, we come into the Tour with a team built around Andrew Talansky. Had David Millar been healthy, he would have been a phenomenal team member. We would have loved to have him. Unfortunately, as seen over the weekend, David is sick, so we were forced to make a difficult and sad decision.”

Millar recently pulled out of both the British national road race and time trial. His Twitter feed indicates he thought he had been selected for the team but then a shift occurred after his lack of performance at the British championship races.

“None of my team will answer the phone to me. I under-performed at the nationals. I’m now so scared about losing my Tour spot I can’t sleep,” he tweeted early Monday morning.

In a follow-up piece by The Guardian, he said, “I’m devastated that the team doesn’t trust me to the job as I’ve always done … I’m in shock. I don’t understand why I’m not selected. The bottom line is that I was selected when they chose the team a week ago and they pulled me because they were worried about my health; that is counterintuitive because they wanted me to race the nationals to prove I was healthy.”

Vaughters, though, lauded the road captain’s achievements in spite of his being left off the squad.

“We are very sorry to leave David Millar home due to illness,” he said in the team release. “His experience is unparalleled and his contributions to the sport and our team are undeniable. We wish things were different for David, but as we look ahead to the Tour, we believe we have selected a strong team and we are committed to helping Andrew build on last year’s success.”

The Tour begins July 5 in Leeds, England.