Alexander Kristoff and Joaquim Rodriguez will lead Team Katusha at the 2016 Tour de France, starting on the 2nd July. The diverse range of talents shared between them and the rest of the team will allow for plenty of opportunities to shine over the three week race.
There is a lot of strength in the Katusha line up, and an impressive array of climbing talent that could certainly be a dark horse in the high mountains when they do come around. Many eyes will be on Movistar, Team Sky and Astana to set the pace; but we must not underestimate Katusha and the strength in their arsenal.
It’s easy to see why Alexander Kristoff is in the line up. The Norwegian acquired two stage wins in the 2014 Tour, but was unusually tamed last year as Andre Greipel rose up to prominence. This year he will be back, and on the back of seven wins already this year, and a host of podium finishes in Kuurne-Bruxelles-Kuurne, Paris-Nice, the Tour of California and the Criterium du Dauphiné; it’s not hard to see that Kristoff is a danger man for the first yellow jersey of the Tour.
He is also a muscular sprinter. There is a lot of strength in Kristoff, and it’s that strength combined with his sprint ability that saw him win the Tour of Flanders last year and place fourth this year. While Caleb Ewan and Mark Cavendish are very much pure pace, Kristoff has that added feather in his cap that could play into his hands.
In the mountains though look for the trio of Jurgen van den Broeck, Ilnur Zakarin and Joaquim Rodriguez. The former and latter have both finished third in the Tour de France, and know this race well. Zakarin doesn’t, this will be his first outing in la Grande Boucle, but boy can he climb. He had more than a few riders on the ropes in the Giro until he withdrew in stage 19.
This trio could potentially fly under the radar a bit in the mountains and that could really play to their advantage if the expected happens and Team Sky, Movistar and Astana really try to dominate as we’re accustomed to. If that happens then it will be interesting to see how Katusha play their cards in the finales of big mountain stages.
The full line up for Katusha at the Tour de France is below:
Jurgen van den Broeck