It’s time for a second big lap of France, starting in Belgium for the man from Invercargill. Tom Scully will line up for EF Education First with a team enjoying almost an embarrassment of riches for GC choice.
Tom Scully will take on his second Tour de France in as many years with the EF Education First set up. This year EF Education First have a mysterious line up for the race, mysterious in regard to the fact that they have so many choices regarding what they could do. They have at least three serious GC options in Rigoberto Uran, Tejay van Garderen and Michael Woods, any one of whom – on their day – could make a serious assault on at least a top 5 overall.
While Jonathan Vaughters is playing his hand close to his chest regarding what the team will target over the next three weeks, Tom Scully will play a vital support role regardless. Scully has had his eye on potential Tour selection for some time. When we caught up with him in June he was on the long list for selection and he cemented his place on the Tour team with performances at the Hammer Limburg, GP du canton d’Argovie and Tour de Suisse.
Now that the decision has officially been made, Scully is set to take to the start line in Brussels on Saturday night New Zealand time. “It will be great to be back at the tour. Yes it seems a long time ago since speaking to Aaron in Norway, and a few race days in the legs since then too. Add in the TTT camp last week and I’ve spent most of June on the road traveling to races as build up,” Tom told RoadCycling.
Tom seems to play a distinctly Bewley-esque role within the EF Education First team more often than not, reminiscent of the position Sam Bewley takes in Mitchelton-SCOTT. What is it about Kiwis who put themselves on the line for their team? This year Scully is aware of what the race and holds and aware of where he will most crucially be called upon. While the likes of George Bennett will start coming into their own around stage 6, Scully will feature much, much sooner.
“The route has more of a climbing focus this year, for me personally the key moment will be day 2’s TTT,” Scully explained. “A strong TTT performance for the team allows the GC contenders to be on the front foot before the mountains come which is where I’m sure all teams would like to be.”
The team time trial will be a 27.6km mad dash between eight riders each, that could be an early banana skin in the fight for the maillot jaune. There is a lot of strength in the EF Education First team with great time trial strength between them that, on paper, would put them in with a good chance of at least being among the top five of the 22 squads present. But the team time trial is a peculiar beast to tame, and it takes a great deal of skill and a little luck to succeed. It’s a race that can go very right and very wrong.
No matter what very right or very wrong come about over the next three weeks, and almost every team has some kind of amalgamation of the two, Scully will benefit from the experiences of yesteryear as he gets ready for Tour number 2. “Going back for a 2nd round is a good feeling, there are a lot of things that will happen over the next month, some of which I can control and a lot not, but having just been there once before, allows that chance for an extra breath when it’s needed,” Tom said.