Alberto BettiolWhen you’re the reigning champion of the Tour of Flanders, you need the best preparation to defend your crown, and in 2020, the best preparation for the Classics comes down to doing the Tour de France – or at least the first 12 days.This will have little negative impact on EF since Bettiol is the kind of rider who could enter most Tour teams. He is strong, willing to work for others and carries a threat. The team will use it in the Tour to ensure that it supports the team, but they will be careful enough to ensure that it is not exhausted after three weeks of racing.
The Preston-born climber was originally scheduled for the Giro d’Italia, but with so many variables now in play, EF made the decision to include the 26-year-old for his long list of the Tour de France. Carthy has never raced on the Tour, but there are several reasons why it is worth going to Nice. The first is the route, dotted with mountainous stages and devoid of time trials. Second, he probably deserves a chance after an impressive 11th place in the 2019 Giro d’Italia and a stage victory at the Tour de Suisse a month later. It will not be out of its depth.
Finally, RUs require climbers if they are serious about mounting a sustained GC challenge. Selecting Carthy would weaken the team’s Giro options, but the Tour is the Tour, and now more than ever – with sponsors who need relief – you need your strongest team.
The undisputed road captain. Since leaving GreenEdge in late 2015, the 33-year-old has established himself as a prominent member of the EF team. He’s a captain who leads by example and has a calming effect on young riders around him as he acts like the eyes and ears of Charly Wegelius in the team car.
The Australian did not lose contact for a break or even a victory, as demonstrated by his victory at the Royal Bernard Drome Classic earlier this year. In fact, it was flying until the pandemic ended the season. He will go to the Tour.
The Dane is much more than just a sprinter and, as he enters the best years of his career, EF will be tempted to bring the 27-year-old to the race. This season started off well with a victory at the Etoile de Bessèges, and he won a Tour stage in Carcassone two years ago, and it was not flat, but Cort feels like “maybe” at this stage. That said, there is no TTT this year, so the team can be a little more expressive in its composition, and Cort could be a gamble.
The American narrowly missed a top spot in 2019 after making the final list of the 10 who trained in Girona before the final selection. He used this experience to produce a series of performances in the Vuelta, and thus obtained another place on the long list for the Tour. There’s no time trial for him to focus on this time, but three of his best hikes in Vuelta last year came from breaks or small group finishes. The question for team management will be whether Craddock brings something different to the team that cannot be found elsewhere.
Higuita’s performance at Paris-Nice was one of the most memorable and exciting moments of a race that shouldn’t have happened. The sight of a brave South American climber who should be out of his depth but who managed to stay in rungs and against bigger and stronger runners was something to see. The fact that Sep Vanmarcke acted as chaperone during the week only made the tandem more attractive.
The 22-year-old has only one Grand Tour to his credit, but his 14th place and one stage victory at last year’s Vuelta a España – plus a series of other impressive results – means that the Colombian will head for the Tour. He will probably be a protected pilot, alongside Uran, until the road decides who directs the team.
The Estonian seemed to be finishing his career at Astana, but a new kit and a new challenge have reinvigorated the 33-year-old. He is probably the most reliable athlete on the team, especially if they need a Tour and Vuelta driver, but it is his consistency in the mountains that makes Kangert a likely Tour driver. He’s a no-frills, no-frills mountain servant – a product few teams can boast of.
The Belgian has contested the last three rounds, so he obviously impresses the right people at the right time, but making the team for this year’s Tour sounds like a tough request for the 31-year-old. Cort is more clinical, while there are also better servants. Keukeleire’s experience should not be discounted, however, and there is the added benefit of letting him build his form for the Tour classics – but that cannot be the only reason to bring a rider to the race.
The 24-year-old made his Tour de France debut in 2018 and is again on the long list after tackling the Vuelta a España in 2019. Martinez started this season fairly well, with second place on his home circuit , but the team will closely monitor his form, assuming he returns to Europe in time for some pre-Tour races.
However, its position in the team’s hierarchy remains uncertain. Uran and Higuita will be protected riders, so it depends a lot on the importance that the team wishes to give to its climbing contingent.
The former Jumbo-Visma driver has only one Grand Tour to his credit, but he is a very talented all-rounder. His pedigree among the under 23s was indisputable, with a stage victory each at the “Baby Giro” and the Tour de l’Avenir. Its development at Jumbo-Visma has not been slowed down, but EF offers more freedom and growth potential.
It might be too early for Powless to debut on the Tour, and he could instead benefit from another Vuelta-style tilt, where he can aim to show last year’s progress. His results in GC in the weeklong races were very consistent, but a decisive victory would certainly propel him in the hierarchical order of EF.
The record for the Grand Tour of Uran is much better than what people attribute to it, with four laps among the first seven in its last six attempts. He finished second in three Grand Tours during his career, and while this is likely to be the best he will do, he remains EF’s best hope for this year’s Tour.
The route is well suited to his racing style, and he has a talismanic presence in the team which makes him practically unstoppable. His contract is at the end of the season, and there are difficult decisions to be made on this front, but even if Uran struggles on the Tour and Higuita blooms, you just know that the experienced Uran will do everything he can to support his younger teammate. He’s just that kind of driver, and at 33, it could be the defining moment that helps Uran move on to a different role as his career enters a different phase.
Tejay van Garderen
His best years in terms of Grand Tour GC results are behind him, but that doesn’t mean that the 31-year-old cannot play an important role in the EF Tour plans. Keep him away from the pressure of the GC and van Garderen is a versatile who can climb with the best of his day. He bears disproportionate pain from the “fans”, but he finished second in a super competitive Dauphiné 12 months ago, so he clearly still has a lot to offer as a rider.
The Canadian fractured the femur at Paris-Nice, but the postponement of the Tour de France from July to August-September provided the 33-year-old player with additional respite and recovery time. His selection on the Tour depends entirely on his form and physical form after an injury, and on his ability to maintain a competitive level for three weeks. At the start of the year, Woods would have been definitely a member of the Tour team, but his recovery is a major factor in any decision.