Monday, June 29, 2009

Teams of the Tour

The following team list is reprinted from Velo News and is current as of 29 June. The comments below each team are my own and my opinion.

2009 Tour de France teams

Ag2r-La Mondiale
Manager: Vincent LAVENU
Cyril Dessel (FRA)
Stephane Goubert (FRA)
Lloyd Mondory (FRA)
Vladimir Efimkin (RUS)
Jose Luis Arrieta Lujambio (ESP)

Ag2r are the most competative of the French teams (which isn't saying alot), Vladimir Efimkin and Cyril Dessel are fine riders that given an opportunity may win a stage. As with all French teams though they have no real GC threat.

Manager: David FORNES
Maxime Bouet (Fra)
Sylvain Calzati (Fra)
Brice Feillu (Fra)
Romain Feillu (Fra)
Eduardo Gonzálo (Spa)
Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra)
David La Lay (Fra)
Christophe Moreau (Fra)
Nicolas Vogondy (Fra)

Agritubel is another French team that lacks any real punch save Christophe Moreau. They will be active in the break every day and depending on how the big teams are feeling may even get one of their riders in the Maillot Jaune for a day or two. The best case scenario for this team is to win a stage or two from the break and possibly have Moreau contend for the KOM.

Manager: Johan BRUYNEEL
Lance Armstrong (USA)
Alberto Contador (Spa)
Levi Leipheimer (USA)
Andreas Kloden (Ger)
Haimar Zubeldia (Spa)
Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr)
Gregory Rast (Swi)
Sergio Paulinho (Por)
Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz)

This quite possibly the strongest team in the history of the Tour De France. The top 4 riders on this team (Armstrong, Contador, Leipheimer, Kloden) have all made the podium in a Grand Tour. If these guys were on seperate teams they would be the top 4 contenders for GC. Throw in Popovich who has a 2nd at the Giro and Zubeldia who is a periennial Top 10 at the Tour and you have 6 of the top 15 riders in the entire race. The only thing that could prevent an Astana rider from winning the Tour (and possibly sweeping the podium) is internal politics. Popular US rider Chris Horner was left off the Tour roster for political reasons. The way I see it is that there are two very distinct sub teams (Armstrong, Leipheimer, Popovich, Kloden) and team two (Contador, Zubeldia, Paulinho) with the other two guys being caught in the middle. It should be interesting to see how this shakes out. I don't buy for one minute that Lance is "willingly" supporting Contador nor do I believe Contador will defer to Armstrong. More on this in the GC preview tomorrow.

Bbox Bouygues Telecom
Manager: Jean-René BERNAUDEAU
William Bonnet (FRA)
Pierre Rolland (FRA)
Thomas Voeckler (FRA)
Yuri Trofimov (RUS)
Pierrick Fedrigo (FRA)
Yukiya Arashiro (JPN)

Bbox Boo-Yah Telecom is pack fodder, nothing more nothing less. Voeckler might go out and grab the KOM jersey and hold it until the high mountains start when the real climbers come out to play.

Caisse D’Epargne
Manager: José-Miguel ECHAVARRI
Jose Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (ESP)
Oscar Pereiro Sio (ESP)
Xabier Zandio Echaide (ESP)
Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (ESP)
Luis Pasamontes Rodriguez (ESP)
David Arroyo Duran (ESP)

Caisse D'Epargne took a major hit when Alejandro Valverde was not allowed to take part in this years Tour. Former champion Oscar Pereiro is on the roster but I don't really expect him to do much in GC. Luis Leon Sanchez could be the big surprise of this team, I expect him to finish in the Top 15.

Cervelo TestTeam
Manager: Theo MAUCHER
Inigo Cuesta (ESP)
Volodymyr Gustov (UKR)
Heinrich Haussler (GER)
Thor Hushovd (NOR)
Andreas Klier (GER)
Brett Lancaster (AUS)
Jose Angel Gomez Marchante (ESP)
Hayden Roulston (NZL)
Carlos Sastre (ESP)

Cervelo Test is a new team this year but it has several familiar faces from past Tours to include defending champion Carlos Sastre. Thor Hushovd should win his share of sprints but other than that I don't expect Sastre to repeat as Tour champion since he no longer has the Schlecks to deflect pressure and chase down attacks. This team is simply not strong enough to stand up to the barrage of attacks from Astana and Saxo Bank in the high mountains. Stage winner Simon Gerrans being left off the team was a disappointment also.

Cofidis, Le Credit En Ligne
Manager: Éric BOYER
Stephane Auge (FRA)
Samuel Dumoulin (FRA)
Leonardo Duque (COL)
Bingen Fernandez (ESP)
Christophe Kern (FRA)
Sebastien Minard (FRA)
Amael Moinard (FRA)
David Moncoutie (FRA)
Remi Pauriol (FRA)

Cofidis is just a step above BBox and a step below Ag2r in the pecking order of French teams. Stephane Auge will be active in the breaks and David Moncoutie will possibly contend early for the KOM, other than that it will be a quiet Tour for Cofidis.

Manager: Miguel MADARIAGA
Igor Antón
Mikel Astarloza
Koldo Fernández
Egoi Martínez
Juanio Oroz
Alan Pérez
Rubén Pérez
Amets Txurruka
Gorka Verdugo

Euskatel is another team with no clear GC contender. Mikel Astarloza is a former winner of the Dauphine' but hasn't done much since. Expect Euskatel to be active in the Pyranees and when the Tour dips into Spain, but other than that not much to get excited about.

Francaise Des Jeux
Manager: Marc MADIOT
Sandy Casar (F)
Jerome Coppel (F)
Anthony Geslin (F)
Yahueni Hutarovich (Blr)
Christophe LeMevel (F)
Benoit Vaugrenard (F)
Jussi Veikkanen (Fin)

Sandy Casar was the Tour's Best Young Rider a few years ago unfortunately he hasn't won anything else of note lately. Casar may win a stage from a breakaway but don't expect alot from this team. FDJ should be happy they are French or they wouldn't be here at all.

Garmin - Slipstream
Manager: Jonathan VAUGHTERS
Julian Dean (NZl)
Tyler Farrar (USA)
Ryder Hesjedal (Can)
Dan Martin (Irl)
David Millar (GBr)
Danny Pate (USA)
Christian Vande Velde (USA)
Bradley Wiggins (GBr)
David Zabriskie (USA)

This is the second or third strongest team in the Tour. Christian Vande Velde (provided he has recovered from his Giro crash) is a legit podium contender. With the additions of Dan Martin and Ryder Hesjedal to the roster this year he should have some help in the high mountains. I would be shocked if Garmin doesn't win the Team TT and at least one other stage.

Lampre - N.G.C.
Manager: Giuseppe SARONNI
Marco Bandiera (ITA)
Angelo Furlan (ITA)
Marco Marzano (ITA)
Daniele Righi (ITA)
Simon Spilak (SLO)
Massimiliano Mori (ITA)
Mirco Lorenzetto (ITA)
Marzio Bruseghin (ITA)
Alessandro Ballan (ITA)

Lampre is a team without an identity. Alessandro Ballan could win a stage or two and with a stronger team Marzio Bruseghin could possibly be Top 5 in GC, it will be interesting to see which direction the team goes. Do they hunt for stage victories or do they go out and try to get Bruseghin high in the GC? Time will tell.

Manager: Roberto, AMADIO
Daniele Bennati (Ita)
Roman Kreuziger (Cze)
Alexandr Kuschynski (Rus)
Vicenzo Nibali (Ita)
Franco Pellizotti (Ita)
Fabio Sabatini (Ita)
Brian Vandborg (Den)
Alessandro Vanoti (Ita)
Frederik Willems (Bel)

With no Ivan Basso due to gastritis, Liquigas took a big hit for the Tour. Basso would have been capable of rivaling the Astana train for podium positions and wins in the mountains. What Liquigas does have is (in my opinion) one of the most exciting young riders in the peleton in Roman Kreuziger. Kreuziger has won the Tour of Romandie already and had a very good Giro as well, he may be one to crash the Astana party at the top of the leader boards. Expect Bennati to mix it up on some of the stages also.

Quick Step
Manager: Patrick LEFÉVÈRE
Sylvain Chavanel (FRA)
Jerome Pineau (FRA)
Stijn Devolder (BEL)
Carlos Barredo Llamazales (ESP)

Quick Step has an excellent GC man in Sylvain Chavanel, unfortunately they don't have the team to support him. Ultimately the teams success or failure will depend on the decision by CAS to let Tom Boonen into the Tour. If he is in then the team can concentrate on winning the Sprinters jersey, if not then the will hunt stage wins with Stijn Devolder and Chavanel.

Manager: Harold KNEBEL
Denis Menchov
Grischa Niermann
Juan Antonio Flecha
Oscar Freire
Juan Manuel Garate
Joost Posthuma
Stef Clement
Laurens Ten Dam
Robert Gesink

Rabobank is one of the more intriguing teams in this year's Tour. Denis Menchov is fresh off of his victory in the Giro where he soundly beat Leipheimer and Armstrong in two Time Trials. The Rabo's also bring Robert Gesink to the Tour to provide climbing help for Menchov and contend for the KOM jersey. Oscar Freire is still fast and should be able to mix it up with Cavendish and Hushovd for some sprint victories. Expect Juan Antonio Flecha to be in several breaks and possibly win a stage from one of them.

Manager: Marc SERGEANT
Cadel Evans (AUS)
Thomas Dekker (NED)
Jurgen Van den Broeck (BEL)
Johan Vansummeren (BEL)
Greg Van Avermaet (BEL)
Staf Scheirlinckx (BEL)
Mickael Delage (FRA)
Matthew Lloyd (AUS)
Sebastian Lang (GER)

Ah poor close to winning the Tour for two straight years and now so far away. With the defection of Yaraslav Popovich to Astana, Evans has virtually no help in the mountains. Thomas Dekkar and Matthew Lloyd will do the best the can, but I don't see either of them being able to hang with the best climbers. All Cadel can do is Time Trial his tail off and follow wheels in the mountains. If he is close on Mount Ventoux then he could have a shot, especially if there is infighting at Astana.

Jonathan Hivert (FRA)
Piet Rooijakkers (NED)
Kenny Robert Van Hummel (NED)
Albert Timmer (NED)
Cyril Lemoine (FRA)
Simon Geschke (GER)

Pack fodder....I have no idea who any of these guys are!

Team Columbia - Highroad
Manager: Bob STAPLETON
Mark Cavendish (GBR)
George Hincapie (USA)
Tony Martin (GER)
Mark Renshaw (AUS)
Michael Rogers (AUS)
Maxime Monfort (ITA)
Kim Kirchen (LUX)
Bernhard Eisel (AUT)
Marcus Burghardt (GER)

This is a great team, with great riders, lead by a great manager. You can't say enough good things about Columbia. They are a true team and work for on another to get the stage or race victory whether it is a sprint for Cavendish or an overall for Kirchen. Sadly I don't think that Kirchen has the horses to hang in the high mountains, he should still be Top 10 at worst due to being a very good all around rider, don't count out Mick Rodgers either he was the World TT champion 3 year in a row and has become a decent if not great climber. Expect Cavendish to win at least 4 stages if not more, there is simply no one in the world even close to him in the last 200m of a sprint.

Team Katusha
Manager: Stefano FELTRIN
Joan Horrach Rippoll (ESP)
Serguei Ivanov (RUS)
Danilo Napolitano (ITA)
Nikolay Trusov (RUS)
Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL)
Filippo Pozzato (ITA)
Vladimir Karpets (RUS)
Mikhail Ignatiev (RUS)
Alexandre Botcharov (RUS)

With Robbie McEwen sidelined due to injury Team Katusha will look to Filippo Pozzato and Danilo Napolitano to bring home some sprint victories. Vladimir Karpets is the GC man and could be Top 10 if he can eliminate the one bad day in the mountains that he seems to have every Tour.

Team Milram
Manager: Gerry VAN GERWEN
Gerald Ciolek (Ger)
Markus Fothen (Ger)
Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger)
Linus Gerdemann (Ger)
Christian Knees (Ger)
Niki Terpstra (Ned)
Peter Velits (Svk)
Fabian Wegmann (Ger)
Peter Wrolich (Aut)

Team Milram could surprise some people this year and have a great Tour. No longer are they the lead out train for Petacchi and Zabel in the sprints, Milram actually has three riders in Markus Fothem, Fabian Wegmann and Linus Geremann that could be high in the GC. Gerdemann wore the Yellow Jersey for one day during the '07 Tour and with some help could wear it again this year. This is a sneaky strong team!

Team Saxo Bank

Manager: Bjarne RIIS
Andy Schleck (Lux)
Fränk Schleck (Lux)
Fabian Cancellara (Swi)
Stuart O’Grady (Aus)
Jens Voigt (G)
Nicki Sørensen (Den)
Chris Anker Sørensen (Den)
Gustav Larsson (Swe)
Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor)

Team Saxo Bank is again loaded for bear at this year's Tour. Cancellara should win the opening Time Trial, both of the Schlecks are very, very strong climbers, Jens Voigt can be counted on to be in a breakaway or ten, and Stuart O'Grady still has some pop in the legs to contend for the sprint finishes. Kurt-Asle Arvesen is another Tour stage winner on the team. Look for one or both of the Schlecks to ride high in the GC, if they can limit their losses in the Time Trials either one has a shot to win it all.

There you have it, a look at each team that will start the 2009 Tour De France. The rosters that aren't full yet shouldn't make any difference with the exception of Boonen being added to the Quick Step roster. In order of strength I rank the top 10 in this order:

  1. Astana-they are like the Yankees of cycling
  2. Columbia-close between them and Garmin for 2nd, the health of Vande Velde and the strength of Cavendish in the sprint is what gives them the edge.
  3. Garmin-Slipstream-very strong team this year, hopefully Vande Velde has recovered from his crash in the Giro and can ride like he did last year.
  4. Saxo Bank-Climbers, Time Trialists, and a Sprinter (Oh my!). They should be in the mix on every stage.
  5. Cervelo Test Team-Sastre and Hushovd will bring home some victories for the Cervelo boys. Plus they ride the P4!
  6. Milram-Scary good, lots of really good young talent.
  7. Silence-Lotto-Cadel is riding solo again. Thomas Dekker could surprise though.
  8. Liquigas-Roman Kreuziger will win the Tour one day in the near future, probably not on this team though.
  9. Rabobank-They should probably be a bit higher, but I am not convinced that Menchov is fully recovered from the Giro enough to contend.
  10. Lapre, Quick Step (with Boonen), or Caisse D'Epargne.....flip a coin.

Tomorrow is the GC, Sprinter, and KOM preview.


Brian said...

Great write-up, Brett, very informative. Thanks for takign the time to pen your thoughts about each team.

Did your head or your heart write the rankings for Tour leaders? The reason I ask is that I really like the top three teams,

Greg said...

Great summary and thoughts, very informative and a good read. I will be following along for your expert analysis. I like your picks for top 3 teams too.