Alberto Bettiol. Simon Clarke. Tejay van Garderen. Tanel Kangert. Sebastian Langeveld. Tom Scully. Rigoberto Uran. Mike Woods.
Our Tour de France team is set and ready to roll this weekend in Belgium, with eight riders from eight different countries. The Tour is the sport’s biggest race and one of its most beautiful. Millions of people stand on the roads in July, and millions and millions more turn on their TVs and watch back at home. It’s the race people grow up watching.
And it’s finally here.
“Our specific ambitions we will leave to ourselves. As giving it away wouldn’t be any fun,” says team CEO Jonathan Vaughters. “And we’re all about having a bit of fun.”
Below, hear from each of our Tour riders about his selection and hopes for La Grande Boucle.
“Doing the Tour this year is another big opportunity. It’s an honor to be a part of the Tour squad, and it’s also a great responsibility. I’m really looking forward to the start of the race. With the Tour beginning in Brussels, in Belgium, where a few months ago I won the most famous one-day race, the Tour of Flanders, I feel like the first stages in Belgium will be really special for me.”
“The team has evolved in the last few years, but we haven’t made too many changes to the roster since Rigo got second. That core roster has grown stronger, and I’m confident that we’re bringing a more solid, united team than ever at the Tour. We’re all so motivated to represent the EF colors in July.”
“This year is my fourth year doing the Giro-Tour double. It’s never easy. I’m a little sharper and more punchy in the Giro, but I think the Tour requires more endurance, and doing the Giro gives me an advantage there. I’m more ready for the Tour mountain stages than the Giro stages whenever I do the double. I’m hoping to support our climbers and maybe get into a big breakaway myself in second half of the race.”
“My job is very clear. I’m one of the key riders for the team time trial, and I’m here to protect our leaders, especially in the first week when things are the most hectic. Depending on how hard that job is, I’d love to have a crack at the individual time trial, but I’m going to the Tour absolutely as a domestique, to help the team on the bike, off the bike, however I can. I’m happy to be on the Tour team, and I’m happy with this role. Any more would be an unexpected but happy surprise.”
“The group has been coming together really well. Our build-up as been low on stress and high on motivation. Within the team, we’re all satisfied and happy with how we’re progressing on the bike, and that attitude has created a real relaxed and light-hearted environment.”
“The route is going to be a good one for me this year. There are some hard stages, like always, with a lot of stages that finish over 2000 meters. Fans can expect a beautiful, challenging route. In the last week, that’s when the gaps will form between the leaders. This year is a good year for Colombians who are from high altitude, the born climbers.”
“The Tour is the one race that transcends cycling. Without the Tour de France, cycling would be an obscure sport. The Tour puts cycling in front of the world. The everyday person knows about this race. As a kid, it was the only race in the US that was ever on TV. Growing up, I had no idea what Liège was, no idea what Dauphiné was, but I knew the Tour. That holds true for most people. Naturally then, we all want to perform at the highest level on the biggest stage, and I think I’m well-positioned to do that, and so is the team.”
“I have been more consistent this season, and I have been consistently present on the attack. That’s something I want to do at this Tour. I want to be visible. I want the fans, particularly the Canadian fans, to turn on the TV and see a Canadian at the front of the best race in the world. I’m not here to be a passenger. I’m here to be active and influence the outcome, so that some Canadian kid back home can watch and say: ‘That’s Mike Woods. I want to grow up and race like Mike Woods.’ That’s what motivates me.”