The Grand Départ of the 105de Tour de France is approaching. Among the 22 teams who on July 7 will start in Noirmoutiers is for the second year in a row, also Wanty-Groupe Gobert. The Belgian team announced today its final selection are known, and there is no place for audience favorite, Frederick Backaert.
There is place for three Belgians in the final selection of Wanty-Groupe Gobert: Tourdebutant Timothy Dupont, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck, and Thomas Degand. Further, the selection Guillaume Martin, Marco Minnaard, Yoann Offredo, Andrea Pasqualon and Dion Smith.
General manager Jean-François Bourlart: “The selection of the three last riders was not easy. But in the eight flat stages, we want to be a pure sprinter’s preparation. Prior to this Timothy Dupont the ideal profile. We hope that he can compete with the fast guys. Last year we brought in three stages, the ranking of the teams within, and also this will be Dupont in the first week an important role to play.”
“Dion Smith has a rising form, as shows his second place in Paris-Chauny last weekend. He already has a Tour in the legs, and showed himself to be the last year in the Tour of Belgium and the Dauphiné. Our New Zealander is an all-rounder: he has his place in the first week and Guillaume Martin to assist in the sequel.”
“Guillaume Van Keirsbulck will in the opening week, then again play an important role in the collective around Guillaume Martin. He will Martin to assist in Roubaix, and the experience of van Keirsbulck in fans and on cobblestones is a plus for our French climber. We hope him a time or two in the escape to send, like last year.”
“In general wants to Wanty-Groupe Gobert for three weeks, let it be as last year: offensive and belligerent. The team has the Tour accurately prepared and appears in its best condition at the start. Our priority is to roll out Guillaume Martin to protect him in the best possible position to the Alps. Then it is up to Guillaume on his favourite terrain, the mountains. Guillaume is just like us-ambitious, and so we will do everything to make his 23de place on his debut to surpass.”
Sports director Hilaire Van der Schueren: “The choice was very difficult, and I hope that we are not mistaken. We had to strike a balance in our selection, taking into account the mountain stages, but also with the flat stages in the first week and the team time trial. I believe that Timothy Dupont capable of top 5 to sprint. Van Keirsbulck, I expect strong work in the service of Martin, both in the team time trial as on the cobblestones. The form of Smith, is in a rising line. He is able to have beautiful things to show.”
Selection: Thomas Degand Timothy Dupont Guillaume Martin Marco Minnaard Yoann Offredo Andrea Pasqualon Dion Smith, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck
Reserves: Odd Eiking Frederik Backaert