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Tour de France

Tour de France: Romain Bardet to lead Team DSM, Kevin Vermaerke makes his debut

No spot for Søren Kragh Andersen as team send five Tour de France debutants to the race.

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As expected, Romain Bardet has been named as the team leader for Team DSM heading into the Tour de France.

The eight-rider roster was confirmed Thursday morning with 21-year-old American rider Kevin Vermaerke set to make his grand tour debut. The team includes five Tour de France debutants in total.

As VeloNews reported Wednesday, two-time Tour de France stage winner Søren Kragh Andersen has been left off the roster for the race. He will leave the team at the end of the season with his expected move to Alpecin-Fenix set to be announced in the coming weeks. There are also no spots for Nikias Arndt or Cees Bol. Both riders had been on the team’s Tour de France long list.

“We’re all looking forward to the 2022 Tour de France,” team coach Matt Winston said. “Every day we will have to be sharp and that starts right from the opening day with the TT in Copenhagen which is followed by the potential for crosswinds and nervous stages in the rest of our time in Denmark. We then transfer to France where we’re straight back into action with some tricky stages, including over the cobblestones, where we expect to see a big fight.

“A tough middle part of the race follows in the mountains, which then continues as we head towards the Pyrennees before the traditional finale in Paris. Our main goal for the three weeks is to go for stage results. We will focus day-by-day on how the race is progressing and come up with plans for where we see that our chances lie. We have a really motivated group of guys who are full of ambition, as we look to compete in the sprint stages and in the more mountainous days as well.”.

Read more: Romain Bardet confirms return to Tour de France after Giro d’Italia abandon

Despite missing the Dane’s presence, Team DSM remains focused on targeting stage wins in the Tour de France.

Bardet looked set for a top-10 at the Giro d’Italia in May until he was forced out of the race due to illness but he has found his form and fitness since then. The two-time podium finisher will lead the line through the hilly and mountainous stages as he looks to add to his collection of three stage wins.

John Degenkolb has made the team with the German an automatic contender for the cobbled stage in the first week. A former Paris-Roubaix winner, Degenkolb won the cobbled stage of the 2018 Tour de France.

Vermaerke has never raced a grand tour but the American rider put in a number of impressive displays throughout the early season. He finished fourth on stage 2 of the Critérium du Dauphiné and 15th on the demanding stage to Vaujany.

Alberto Dainese will spearhead the team in the bunch sprints. The Italian has already had a busy season and he won a stage of the Giro d’Italia earlier this year. Like Vermaerke, he is set to make his Tour de France debut, with Degenkolb likely to form part of his leadout train.

Chris Hamilton, like Dainese, raced the Giro d’Italia in May and is set to make his Tour debut. The Australian will target mountain and intermediate stages.

Andreas Leknessund, another Tour de France and grand tour debutant, won a stage at the Tour de Suisse this month and finished 13th overall. The 23-year-old has made the cut for the Tour and will back up Bardet in the mountains while also looking for his own opportunities.

Nils Eekhoff has only raced 14 days this season but has made the team. The 23-year-old, who made his Tour debut last year, is likely to help Dainese in the sprints.

The final spot on the team has been given to Martijn Tusveld, another Tour de France first-timer. The 28-year-old came through the Giro d’Italia earlier in the year.