Tour de France 2020

Tour de France 2020: Van Avermaet, Trentin, Zakarin lead stage hunt for CCC Team

Stage wins top priority for Ochowicz in face of sponsor crisis and stream of riders leaving team.

CCC Team is on the hunt for a stage victory at this year’s Tour de France, and the pressure is on.

Greg Van Avermaet, Matteo Trentin, Ilnur Zakarin, and Simon Geschke provide options for a team set to contest in the high mountains, reduced sprints, and tough breakaway days. They will be supported by road captain Michael Schär, Alessandro De Marchi, and Tour de France rookies Jan Hirt and Jonas Koch.

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“Tour de France stage wins are not easy to come by, but we have selected our strongest eight riders to line up in Nice, half of whom are past stage-winners, which gives us a lot of confidence ahead of the race,” said team president Jim Ochowicz.

“Ilnur Zakarin will have the freedom to see what he can do on the general classification and we will support him as much as possible but ultimately, our focus is on arriving in Paris with at least one stage win to our name.”

American duo Will Barta and Joey Rosskopf did not make the selection despite both putting in strong performances in the early-August races in France.

The team’s best opportunity for a stage win comes from classics specialists Trentin and Van Avermaet, who boast five Tour stage victories between them.

“Greg Van Avermaet and Matteo Trentin are multiple Tour de France stage winners and have time and time again demonstrated their ability to win at the highest level of racing,” said sports director Steve Bauer. “It’s no surprise they are our clear leaders for the Tour de France.”

This year’s Tour will be the last that Van Avermaet rides under the lead of long-time boss Ochowicz after the pair worked together through the BMC Racing era before the squad became CCC Team. With Polish shoemakers CCC exiting their sponsorship deal in 2021, Ochowicz is on the hunt for new backers, and Van Avermaet has chosen the safe option of a contract with Ag2r-Citröen through 2023 rather than holding out for his American manager.

“This will be my last Tour de France with Continuum Sports, so it will be a special one for me and I’m even more motivated to get a good result,” Van Avermaet said. “We all know it’s going to be a different race and everyone is lining up without many race days in the legs so it’s hard to know what to expect but so far, I’ve been happy with my form.

“I think every day will be even more of a fight than ever, for both the stage wins and general classification, so we’re in for a tough race. But that suits me and I think there are a few stages that are good for me.”

As marquee riders flood away from CCC Team and sign contracts elsewhere, with Schär, Patrick Bevin, and just this week Nathan Van Hooydonck, all confirming their upcoming departures, the hunt for stage wins at this year’s Tour will prove pivotal in Ochowicz’s scramble for a new sponsor.

Van Avermaet held the yellow jersey against-all-odds for eight consecutive stages in 2018. Perhaps the Belgian can pay Ochowicz one last favor with further success in France this summer.