The 2021 Tour starts on Saturday in Brest and spends the first five days in the native Brittany region of the second ProTeam division.They appointed a team to fight on multiple fronts, with Elie Gesbert able to complement the three leaders by targeting the hard-hitting and mid-mountain stages.
The eight-man squad is significantly less Quintana-focused compared to last year, when the Colombian started racing in his first season with the team. Quintana has had a mixed year 2021 and the three riders who followed him in the team – the winner Anacona, Diego Rosa and his brother Dayer Quintana – will have to miss the Tour this year.
Quintana won the recent Vuelta a Asturias but struggled to make an impact at the Critérium du Dauphiné, where it placed 20th and where team principal Yvan Ledanois posted a scathing review of the form of the team so close to the Tour.
While Barguil, who placed 14th overall last year – three places above Quintana – could end up working in the mountains, Anthony Delaplace is the only domestic who can provide uphill support.
Unlike last year, the team found room for a pure sprinter in Bouhanni, as well as a dedicated leader in Dan McLay. Bouhanni, who has just made his comeback after a two-month suspension for a dangerous sprint, is back on the Tour de France after a three-year absence. It has yet to taste victory this year, but a victory would complete all stages of the three Grand Tours.
“The objective is to seize as many opportunities as possible in order to achieve a stage victory, without neglecting other objectives during the race,” said team boss Emanuel Hubert.
“The balance of power has been designed to be able to be up there on all terrains, with runners capable of supporting our leaders in their specific fields.
Sprinters and Quintana can look forward to receiving support from Connor Swift, who has become an important part of the squad since joining midway through 2019. The former British champion has been praised for how he has performed guided Quintana through the stages of Treacherous Dish last year. and showed his form with the victory at the recent Tro Bro Leon.
The team is rounded out by another pure domestic in Clement Russo, who is making his second consecutive Tour appearance at the age of 26.
There is no room for Thomas Boudat, who described his non-selection as “one of the biggest disappointments of my career and of my life in general”. The 27-year-old French sprinter was eager to race on the roads of the Gironde, especially the time trial on stage 20.
“For the moment, the disappointment is such that I have not been able to move forward and think about the next step. I need to take some time to make the best decisions for the future. “