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Tour de France

Tour de France: Philippe Gilbert, Caleb Ewan headline Lotto-Soudal

Belgian team focusing on sprints and breakaways for its 37th start in Tour de France.

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Caleb Ewan continues on his quest to win stages in all three grand tours, and Philippe Gilbert is back for his 11th time at the Tour de France.

Belgian outfit Lotto-Soudal confirmed its Tour lineup Friday, with Thomas De Gendt rounding out a squad intent on hunting stages.

“It is clear that Caleb Ewan is our absolute and rightful leader,” said Lotto-Soudal manager John Lelangue. “I think there are six to seven stages where the sprinters can battle for the stage win.”

Ewan, who won two stages at the Giro d’Italia, will be a favorite in the bunch sprints. A winner of five stages in the past two editions of the Tour, the Australian will see help from Jasper De Buyst and Roger Kluge, with fresh additions in Tosh Van der Sande and Harry Sweeny.

“Seven of our eight riders have finished the Dauphiné or Baloise Belgium Tour in top shape,” Lelangue said. “We have selected the strongest team possible.”

The team confirmed Thursday that Tim Wellens will not start, and John Degenkolb was also not selected.

As one of the longest-running franchises in the peloton, this will be the 37th participation in the Tour with 39 stage victories over the years.

“The other three places are taken by stage hunters,” Lelangue said. “Philippe Gilbert, Thomas De Gendt and Brent Van Moer will be targeting stage wins in the non-sprinter stages. Like we know them, with panache and courage. We are heading the Brest full of motivation.”

Lotto-Soudal for Tour de France:

Caleb Ewan (Aus)

Philippe Gilbert (Bel)

Thomas De Gendt (Bel)

Roger Kluge (Ger)

Jasper De Buyst (Bel)

Tosh Van der Sande (Bel)

Harry Sweeny (Aus)

Brent Van Moer (Bel)