For its participation in the 100th Tour de France Vacansoleil-DCM has entered a well-balanced team which should be able to battle on all terrains. With three fast men, three born attackers and three riders who are at ease in the mountains, manager Daan Luijkx and acting Sports Directors Hilaire Van Der Schueren, Jean-Paul van Poppel and Aart Vierhouten hope to be at the front of the race for the full three weeks. Vacansoleil-DCM presented their team this morning in the cycling municipality of Rucphen – Sint Willebrord, hometown of not less than four former yellow jersey wearers.
The Dutch contingent of the Vacansoleil-DCM team consists of Wout Poels, Johnny Hoogerland, Lieuwe Westra and the van Poppel brothers, Boy and Danny. Thomas De Gendt and Kris Boeckmans are the strong Belgians on the team which is completed by former stage winner Juan Antonio Flecha and Sergey Lagutin. The Spaniard will start his tenth Tour de France on the beautiful island of Corsica. The Dutch brothers and multiple Uzbek national champion are making their debut.
We’re expecting that these nine selected riders will do justice by the characteristic that Vacansoleil-DCM is best known for: the Dutch World Tour-team has always been about a surprising, passionate and attractive style of racing. That is exactly how the squad hopes to pick up a stage win in France’s national tour. This does not mean that they’ll be forgetting all about the GC. Wout Poels has found his habitual level after his serious crash in last year’s Tour and has already been rubbing shoulders with the world’s top riders. His third place finish in the 2012 Giro d’Italia was definitely proof of the fact that Thomas De Gendt has what it takes to make an excellent GC contender.
“Danny van Poppel making the team is probably the biggest surprise for outsiders”, tells Aart Vierhouten. “I’ve worked with him for three years when I was responsible for the national team, first as a junior, then in the U-23 category. I have witnessed every time that when he rises through the ranks it does not affect him much at all. And that has proven to be the case now that he’s joined the pros where he has already made it up to the podium quite a few times. Nineteen is young, but luckily that is not a problem in the Tour today. The young kids they are able to connect, where this was impossible ten years ago.”
Danny is a kid who needs new challenges all the time, but without the pressure. Talent needs to be stimulated. We believe that this is a logical step in his career. He recently competed in the Tours of Belgium and Luxemburg and showed everyone that his form is excellent, so that gave him an edge. So far he has only 34 racing days for the year, so we don’t think that we’re putting him to the sword, but of course we will monitor him closely, together with our medical staff. And the Tour will be an awesome experience for him, and very valuable for his future as a cyclist.”
Team Vacansoleil-DCM: Kris Boeckmans (26), Juan Antonio Flecha (35), Thomas De Gendt (26), Johnny Hoogerland (30), Sergey Lagutin (32), Wout Poels (25), Boy van Poppel (19), Danny van Poppel (25), Lieuwe Westra (30).