Tinkoff-Saxo announced its Tour de France team Monday, and unsurprisingly, the nine-rider squad is designed to deliver team captain Alberto Contador to a Giro-Tour double victory. The Spaniard has completed the first half of the feat, winning the maglia rosa in May, and now faces a tough battle for the yellow jersey.
“Looking at the list of riders that will represent our team, I reckon that we will field a very strong squad and most importantly versatile, as the Tour will present us all with an array of different challenges,” said Steven de Jongh, head sport director of Tinkoff-Saxo, in a team statement. “Alberto [Contador] is our captain and Rafal Majka will be his key support in the high mountains, while Kreuziger, Rogers, and Basso will offer experience and strong backing in the medium mountains. Then we have a lot of horsepower in Bennati, Tosatto, and Valgren for the flatter stages, and they will also be able to help Peter [Sagan] in the search for stage wins.”
Majka proved his climbing prowess in 2014, winning the polka-dot jersey as well as two stages in the Tour. This year, he’ll be tasked with shepherding Contador to the key moments of the Tour’s big mountain stages.
“Here, just before Tour de France, I feel very good,” Majka said. “I’m now well-rested after the Tour de Suisse and ready to begin. The Grand Boucle is the most important race for Tinkoff-Saxo in the entire season, and my main goal will be to help Alberto Contador in achieving the overall win. I believe we can do it, and Alberto can win two grand tours in one year.”
Sagan is another Tinkoff rider who may have to shelve his individual ambitions to work toward an overall victory for Contador.
“The Slovak champion title makes me happy and confirms that I am in great form,” Sagan said after winning his country’s national championships. “I am ready for the Tour, where we have a very strong squad. I will contribute to the effort with the highest commitment, and I really look forward to Saturday’s start.”
Implying that Contador’s yellow jersey will take priority over Sagan’s green, De Jongh continued, “It’s pretty obvious that our chief goal is to win the Tour with Alberto [Contador]. We have our full attention on pulling on the yellow jersey in Paris and we are well aware of the fact that it will be a formidable challenge against many strong rivals.”
However, the Tinkoff-Saxo director continued, “Additionally we will support Peter Sagan to win stages, whenever it’s possible and that depends on the situation on each stage.”
Tinkoff-Saxo Tour de France team
Alberto Contador, Peter Sagan, Rafal Majka, Roman Kreuziger, Michael Rogers, Ivan Basso, Daniele Bennati, Michael Valgren, and Matteo Tosatto.