Chris Froome will go up against familiar faces when he attempts to win a third Tour de France title in July, after the same 22 teams from last summer were named by race organisers yesterday.
The route seems perfect for Briton Froome, with individual time trials set to play a much bigger part in deciding the winner of the general classification than in previous editions.
The Team Sky man edged out Colombian Nairo Quintana by 1min and 12secs last year, having also taken the 2013 title. Froome, Quintana and Alberto Contador all look likely to line up alongside each other once more, with Sky, Movistar and Tinkoff all unsurprisingly on the team list.
“It’s a selection without surprises,” Tour general director Christian Prudhomme told AFP of a list that includes four invitees, three of them French and one German (Bora-Argon).
“Bora is a very strong team that will be in the Tour for the third time. They have the German champion, the young Emanuel Buchmann, who did an excellent climb at Cauterets last year (he finished third) and a good sprinter in Irishman Sam Bennett,” he added.
2014 Giro D’Italia champion Quintana is expected to be one of Froome’s main challengers for the yellow jersey again this year, with the mountain finishes at Mont Ventoux and Saint-Gervais-les-Bains expected to produce exciting battles between the top climbers.
For the second year in a row bonus seconds will be handed out to the top three on each stage, after seven years with no seconds on offer for stage finishes. That did not prevent Slovakian Peter Sagan from winning the points classification for the fourth year in a row last summer, despite not winning a stage.
Sagan will face competition for the green jersey from the in-form Marcel Kittel and Norway’s Alexander Kristoff, while Mark Cavendish will be competing with Team Dimension Data in the Tour for the first time.
The South African outfit impressed as the first African team to race the Tour de France in 2015 under their previous guise of MTN-Qhubeka, and they will return for a second attempt.
This year’s Tour de France takes place from July 2-24.
Teams qualified through International Cycling Union rules: AG2R La Mondiale (FRA), Astana Pro Team (KAZ), BMC Racing Team (USA,) Cannondale Pro Cycling Team (USA), Dimension Data (RSA), Etixx-Quick Step (BEL), FDJ (FRA), IAM Cycling (SUI) Lampre-Merida (ITA), Lotto Soudal (BEL), Movistar Team (ESP), Orica GreenEDGE (AUS), Team Giant-Alpecin (GER), Team Katusha (RUS),
Team Lotto NL-Jumbo (NED),
Team Sky (GBR), Tinkoff (RUS), Trek-Segafredo (USA)
Invited teams: Bora-Argon 18 (GER), Cofidis (FRA), Direct Energie (FRA), Fortuneo-Vital Concept (FRA)
Janse van Rensburg wins Tour de Langkawi
South Africa’s Reinardt Janse van Rensburg powered his way to win the Le Tour de Langkawi yesterday, despite a disappointing finish in the event’s final stage in Malaysia.
The 27-year-old rider finished 12th in the final stretch of the race in Malaysia’s southern Malacca state, but still reigned overall with a total time of 28hr 31min 21sec for the tough eight-stage course.
The victory for Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) is a boost ahead of his spring campaign in Europe, starting with his first major target of Milan-San Remo in Italy on March 19.
Colombia’s Daniel Alexander Jaramillo Diez (United Health Care Professional) finished second overall with a total time of 28hr 31min 39sec, while his fellow countryman Miguel Lopez Moreno (Astana Pro Team) was third with 28hr 31min 40sec.
Yesterday’s final stage was won by Andrea Guardini of Italy (Astana Pro Team) in 2hr 42min 55sec.
Italy’s Jakub Mareczko (Southeast-Venezuela) was second and Japan’s Shiki Kuroeda (Aisan Racing Team) took third. Janse van Rensburg also finished the last leg in 2hrs 42mins 55sec.
The final stage race was 119 kilometres (74 miles) long and included an eight-kilometre loop through a picturesque historical district.
Janse van Rensburg is the fourth African rider to win the event’s overall title after Algerian rider Youcef Reguigui in 2015, South Africans Ryan Cox in 2005 and David George in 2006.