Etixx-Quick-Step has brought a team to the Tour de France that could make a big impression in the first week. “Our ultimate goal is to leave a mark in this Tour de France, and we believe we have the potential to do it,” sport and development manager Rolf Aldag said in a team press release.
Multi-time world time trial champ Tony Martin is expected to set a blistering pace in stage 1‘s 13.8km individual test. “In function of Utrecht, I think this was a really good race for both my legs and my moral,” Martin said after winning the national TT championships Friday.
Cavendish is looking for redemption. The 25-time Tour de France stage winner wants to add to his total after crashing out on stage 1 last year. Interestingly, the team is not centered exclusively on his sprint ambitions. Cavendish will, however, have his loyal lead-out man Mark Renshaw for the bunch gallops.
Reigning world champion Michal Kwiatkowski will look to make his mark on stage 3, as the finish is atop the Mur de Huy, the same climb where the spring classic La Flèche Wallonne finishes. Kwiatkowski scored third place last year in Flèche. The Pole may also be a threat for stages 6 and 8, which will favor his style as a ‘puncheur.’
Stage 4‘s cobblestone route could be a day for former world cyclocross champion Zdenek Stybar, and certainly, as a team, Etixx-Quick-Step is well-drilled on how to ride northern pavé.
For the GC, the Belgian squad has brought along two-time runner-up in the Giro d’Italia, Rigoberto Urán. The team has never earned a grand tour general classification win, and after a dismal Giro this year, Urán will look for a high placing overall to show he can still compete with the best over three weeks.
The Tour de France begins in Utrecht, Netherlands on July 4 and finishes in Paris on July 26
Etixx-Quick-Step Tour de France team
Mark Cavendish (GB), Michal Golas (Pl), Michal Kwiatkowski (Pl), Tony Martin (G), Mark Renshaw (Aus), Zdenek Stybar (Cz), Matteo Trentin (I), Rigoberto Uran (Col), and Julien Vermonte (B)