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"We enter this year's Tour de France with the objective to win the race with Alberto. So obviously we've tried to pick the riders that fits the best to our overall goal," sports director Philippe Mauduit says

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ALBERTO CONTADOR

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BENJAMIN NOVAL

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DANIELE BENNATI

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JESUS HERNANDEZ BLAZQUEZ

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MATTEO TOSATTO

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MICHAEL ROGERS

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NICOLAS ROCHE

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ROMAN KREUZIGER

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SERGIO PAULINHO

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TOUR DE FRANCE

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19.06.2013 @ 14:52 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Alberto Contador will be backed by a formidable team in his attempt to win his third Tour de France title. His Saxo-Tinkoff team has announced a versatile selection containing strong climbers like Roman Kreuziger, Michael Rogers, Nicolas Roche and Jesus Hernandez while Daniele Bennati and Matteo Tosatto will take care of their Spanish captain in the flat stages.

 

If Alberto Contador does not win his third Tour de France this year (recall that he has been disqualified from his 2010 win), it will not be due to a lack of team support. With the notable exception of the incredible Astana team in the 2009 Tour, Contador has never lined up at the start of the world's biggest race as part of a stronger team than he will do in less than two weeks in Corsica.

 

Prior to the season, the Danish team made sure to reinforce its strength in the mountains, and key signings Roman Kreuziger, Nicolas Roche and Michael Rogers have all been included in the line-up. They have all shown good form recently with Kreuziger finishing 3rd at the Tour de Suisse, Roche supporting him formidably and Rogers taking 6th at the Criterium du Dauphiné.

 

Jesus Hernandez and Sergio Paulinho both supported their captain in the mountains when he won the Vuelta last year and both will be back in a similar role this time. Both have shown promising signs recently as Hernandez was one of the very best climbers at the Dauphiné while Paulinho finished 2nd in the Tour of Norway.

 

Grand tour veterans Matteo Tosatto, Daniele Bennati and Benjamin Noval will have the difficult task of bringing Contador safely through the many crash-marred stages in the first week. Bennati has raced 14, Tosatto 25 and Nival 9 grand tours and so Contador will be able to benefit from a wealth of experience in the three-week races.

 

Tosatto and Bennati both did a fantastic job to support Kreuziger in the Tour de Suisse while the inclusion of Noval is a bit more of a surprise. The Spaniard is, however, one of Contador's close friends and that is likely to have played a role in his selection.

 

Sports director Philippe Mauduit underlines the importance of versatility in a grand tour that contains several different terrains and potential pitfalls.

 

"We enter this year's Tour de France with the objective to win the race with Alberto," he said. "So obviously we've tried to pick the riders that fits the best to our overall goal, and we've tried to identify and bring together the competencies needed in the team to give Alberto the best possible support and protection over the three weeks on both flat roads and hectic finals, the hilly terrain, the mountains and the TTT."

 

"We believe, we have come up with a really strong lineup, a great all round team with a lot of valuable Grand Tour experience," he added. "So we feel certain Team Saxo-Tinkoff will make a significant impact on the race, and we look very much forward to three exiting weeks in France."

 

Team owner Bjarne Riis feels that the line-up allows the team to take an offensive approach and be a key protagonist in all terrains.

 

"I think we have found a great mix of in-form riders," he said. "We have a group of strong climbers in the team, we have riders designated to take care of Alberto on the flat roads and in the wind, and I'm sure we will perform well in the TTT as well. At the same time this team will allow us to ride aggressively or take a more controlling approach in all terrains depending on our needs. At the end of the day this versatility will be a key components in trying to win the race."

 

Three riders were in the running for selection but missed out. Tour de France veteran Nicki Sørensen was taken off the Giro roster at the last minute to possibly start the Tour as he had performed strongly in the Ardennes, ultimately failing to make it into the team.

 

Danish climber Chris Anker Sørensen - most aggressive and 14th overall last year - will miss the Tour for the first time since 2008. He had to abandon the Dauphiné due to stomach problems but performed solidly in last week's Tour of Luxembourg.

 

Finally, track specialist Michael Mørkøv did not make the cut and will not make his second appearance at the Tour this year. As a consequence, there will be no Danes in the Danish team's line-up and Riis admitted that it had been a tough decision to leave his compatriots at home.

 

"This year, the race to be part of our Tour de France lineup has been tougher than in many years with more than the nine riders selected deserving a spot, and in our reserves group consisting of Nicki Sørensen, Chris Anker Sørensen and Michael Mørkøv, we have three highly competent and strong riders ready to step up if needed," he said. "Recently Matti Breschel has also shown great form. On a personal level it has been a tough decision for me to not have a Danish rider in the lineup. But we have committed ourselves to go with the group, we believe has the best composition to achieve our overall goal."

 

Contador will start his Tour campaign on June 29 with a flat stage in Corsica.

 

Team Saxo-Tinkoff for the Tour de France:

Alberto Contador, Michael Rogers, Roman Kreuziger, Nicolas Roche, Daniele Bennati, Matteo Tosatto, Benjamin Noval, Jesus Hernandez and Sergio Paulinho

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