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Arkéa-Samsic has ambitions for general classification success with Nairo Quintana and home star Warren Barguil, while Nacer Bouhanni will be aiming to deliver stage victories in the sprints. With the race starting in the team’s home region of Brittany, the impetus for success will be far higher.
Astana-Premier Tech is branching away from the GC contest this year after their marquee stage racing star Miguel Ángel López switched to Movistar over the winter. The Kazakh squad still has a potential overall contender in Jakob Fuglsang, but it won’t be putting all its resources behind the Dane.
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The partnership of Quintana and Barguil for Arkéa-Samsic could be an interesting one and allows them to ride tactically as they will not have the firepower to outgun the big teams on their own.
Barguil performed better in the 2020 Tour than his Colombian teammate, who was suffering with injury after he was hit by a car in training last summer, but Quintana appears to be on a slightly better trajectory this year. Neither has set the world alight so far in 2021 and they’ll need to step up their game for the Tour.
Meanwhile, Bouhanni will be looking for his first win of the season after a year that has been marked by controversy. The sprinter was suspended for two months after he was deemed to have sprinted dangerously at the Cholet-Pays de la Loire and only returned to action at the Baloise Belgium Tour earlier this month.
— Team Arkéa Samsic (@Arkea_Samsic) June 21, 2021
Also lining up will be British talent Connor Swift and Dan McLay, who will be key support for Bouhanni as well as back-up if he goes awry. French riders Anthony Delaplace, Elie Gesbert and Clément Russo will round out the team’s eight for the Tour.
“The Arkéa-Samsic team for the 2021 Tour is built around our three leaders: Nairo Quintana, Warren Barguil and Nacer Bouhanni. The objective is to open up as many opportunities as possible for us in order to secure a stage victory, without neglecting other objectives as the race progresses,” general manager Emmanuel Hubert said.
“The balance of power has been designed to be able to respond to each type of terrain with runners who will come to support our leaders by providing them with support in their specific areas. Our team is international, however, with five French riders, including two from Brittany, which means that a quarter of our workforce on the Tour will come from our territory.”
Astana-Premier Tech comes armed with riders that have serious pedigree over one day and can do some damage from a grand tour breakaway. In addition to last year’s Il Lombardia winner Fuglsang, the team has multiple Tour de France stage winners in Alexey Lutsenko, Ion Izagirre, and recently crowned Spanish national champion Omar Fraile.
Alex Aranburu and Stefan de Bod will be making their Tour de France debuts, while Canadian stalwart Hugo Houle is set to ride his third.
The Kazakh team has been ultra-aggressive throughout the racing in the first half of the season and more of the same can be expected in the Tour de France. While they may not be going for GC success, they could still do some damage if they go hard on any of the big mountain stages.
“Our main focus at this year’s Tour de France is stage wins. We are coming to France with a strong and motivated team featuring,” performance manager Dmitriy Fofonov said.
“We have a versatile roster and will make the most of the freedom that comes with stage hunting. Winning a stage at any grand tour, let alone the Tour de France, isn’t easy but I am confident that we will enjoy success, as we did last year, and show the Astana-Premier Tech jersey at the front of the race.”