For the first time since 2012, Cannondale will line up for the Tour de France without a Kiwi in their ranks. It was expected that Jack Bauer certainly, and potentially Patrick Bevin also, would fight strongly for a Tour de France spot in the team; but this year both Kiwis will focus on different horizons.
It is the general classification that is the focus of the Cannondale Pro Cycling team at the 2016 Tour de France. Pierre Rolland will head up the nine-man squad that is void of a number of names that raise eyebrows. While many Kiwis may have hoped that Patrick Bevin would have lined up at the Tour, it is unsurprising due to it being his first year in full flight professional cycling, and because of his unfortunate run of bad luck in crashes and injury this year.
Jack Bauer’s absence from the roster will be a bit harder to swallow however. The 31 year old has worked tirelessly since recovering from a broken femur sustained in last year’s Tour de France, to return to full fitness and contest for a spot on the team. He rode a strong race at the Criterium du Dauphiné in service of Pierre Rolland; while also getting up to take a strong 16th in stage 1. He will be missed from the action this year.
Also notably absent from the Tour de France line up is American Andrew Talansky. It is interesting that the team have sided with Pierre Rolland as their GC hopeful and not the American. Rolland was 10th in the Criterium du Dauphiné, Talansky was 5th in the Tour de Suisse and was also fourth at the Amgen Tour of California in May. The 27 year old has been on the rise all season since family issues early on in the year, but his focus will instead be on a solid Vuelta a Espana later in the year.
The squad that Cannondale have sided with is like Orica GreenEDGE, diverse, versatile and capable doing a whole range of things over the course of three weeks. “We’ll be centering the team around Pierre Rolland, as this back-end loaded Tour de France uniquely suits his diesel-like qualities,” CEO Jonathan Vaughters said in a team statement. “He may not be the most explosive rider, but come the last few days of the Tour de France, he will surprise a few folks. We’ll also be helping Lawson Craddock realise his potential in his first Tour, and looking for opportunities to animate the race. We go into this race as a hungry mongrel of a team. But I’ll take that over a poncy, over-fed poodle any day.”
Pierre Rolland is now 29 years of age and has been consistently well placed in the Tour de France. His best position so far is 8th in 2012, while he also has two tenth place finishes to his name and 11th in 2014. The Frenchman also has two stage wins to his name; something he’ll look to build on this year. “From the time when I was young, I’ve always wanted to participate in this event and win stages. I’ve put in many days training, and with the team I have a really good feeling,” Rolland said. “What I’d really like is a new stage victory and to have the best possible overall standing.”
The full line up for the Cannondale squad at the 2016 Tour de France is below:
Dylan Van Baarle