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And the decision means British sprinter Mark Cavendish will once again be left at home.
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On Friday the team revealed its Tour de France roster, and the eight-man lineup is built squarely around Landa’s run at the yellow jersey. Top climbers Wout Poels, Damiano Caruso, and Pello Bilbao will shepherd Landa in the mountains, while Rafael Valls, Marco Haller, and Matej Mohoric will protect him in the flat terrain.
Fast man Sonny Colbrelli adds another option for the squad on the race’s flatter stages.
“Our team motto is ‘Ride as One’ and that’s what we’re going to do for Mikel at this year’s Tour,” said Gorazd Štangelj, the squad’s sport director. “Mikel and his teammates have been incredibly focussed on this moment. We’ve put a lot of time and analysis into picking each rider against our GC ambition. We’ve done all we can to prepare, and now the whole team is ready.”
Of course, the decision means Cavendish will stay home for the second year in a row. In 2019 Cavendish was left home by South African squad Dimension Data, and in the offseason, he jumped to Bahrain-McLaren. The British sprinter has 30 career Tour de France stage wins, just four shy of Eddy Merckx’s all-time record. With every year Cavendish’s opportunity to win more stages evaporates — he’s 35 years old this year.
The team’s snub of Cavendish isn’t a surprise. Cavendish is winless thus far in 2020, and during the recent Tour of Poland he cracked the top-10 just once.
Additionally, this year’s Tour de France route isn’t kind to the sprinters — the route includes a paltry few flat stages amid its lineup of hilly and mountainous routes.
Rod Ellingworth, Bahrain-McLaren’s principal, said the decision to back Landa at the Tour stems squarely from the course.
“This year’s parcours is very well-suited to Mikel, and his form is strong,” Ellingworth said. “The group we have chosen to support him represents our riders who are most suited to the parcours and Tour-ready. The past few months have been challenging for all riders to be race fit, and it’s a credit to all of our guys that we had such a strong line-up to choose from.”
Cavendish isn’t the only omission from the squad. Belgian climber Dylan Teuns, who won the Tour’s ninth stage in 2019, was not selected. Spanish rouleur Iván García Cortina, who won a stage of Paris-Nice, was also left at home.