Ø Before the presentation of the 184 riders of the 108th Tour de France to the enthusiastic Breton crowd near the harbour in Brest, some star riders took part in several press conferences.
Ø Super teams Jumbo-Visma and Ineos Grenadiers expressed their ambitions to take the yellow jersey sooner or later.
Ø Overall winner in 2014, Vincenzo Nibali is also back to Brest where he made his Tour de France debut in 2008.
Team presentation broadcast live
The riders who have reached the location of the Grand Départ have mostly been on their bike to recognize the courses of the first two stages so far. The teams presentation is scheduled today at 6.30pm at “Parc à Chaînes” in the harbour district of Brest. It’s the first broadcasted event of the 108th Tour de France and an opportunity to discover the new jerseys made on purpose for this race. 22 broadcasters from 170 countries will show it. It includes four local TV stations: Tébéo, Tébésud, TVR, Brezhowed (a web TV in Breton language). The images of the teams presentation will also be accessible on the official digital platforms including www.letour.fr.
Jumbo-Visma: Wout van Aert dreams of the yellow jersey… Primoz Roglic too
Primoz Roglic is back to the Tour de France after he missed out on the overall victory on the penultimate day last year. “We took a different approach this time”, the Slovenian explained during a press conference in Brest. “I haven’t raced for two months. But I’ve already had breaks before and I’m usually ready when I come from altitude training camp. I’ve checked both time trial courses. We know from last year how crucial they can be. I’ve put more work than last year into my time trialling.” Newly crowned Belgian champion Wout van Aert is equally focused on the first time trial as stage 5 could lead him to wearing the yellow jersey in Laval… if not before. “It’s clear for everyone that I can go for a stage win in the first week and we’ll also target the best possible GC with Primoz. The yellow jersey is of course in my mind. [Stage 1 winner in 2019] Mike Teunissen explained to me a little bit how it feels.” However, sports director Grisha Niermann warned that Jumbo-Visma won’t handle all the responsibilities in pacing the peloton like last year. “We’re aware that UAE Team Emirates and Ineos Grenadiers are a lot stronger than last year”, he said. “At a certain point, we’ll play a different tactics.
Brest, city of Grand Départ novelties since 1952
It’s the fourth Grand Départ of the Tour de France in Brest. On the occasion of the first one, the daily combativity prize was created in 1952. This year, the general public has its say as it represents one vote in the jury throughout the official social networks of the event. The touristic guide of the Tour de France was also introduced in 1952. It was then called « le petit Wermel » since it was made by event director Elie Wermelinger (until 1993). Heritage and anecdotes about sport and history can be found on www.letour.fr with the description of each stage. The first daily video highlights were made in 1952 as well with the input of cameram Henri Persin. They were broadcast the day after in the midday news on French TV. The first live broadcast is dated from 8 July 1958 in the Aubisque climb. Nowadays the Tour de France can be seen in 190 countries on 100 channels including 60 live.
Ineos Grenadiers has four cards to play with Thomas, Carapaz, Porte and Geoghegan Hart
All four riders taken successively to the press conference of Ineos Grenadiers have been asked the same question: is the order in which you come symbolic? Only Geraint Thomas replied “yes” and he was first to show up indeed. Leadership inside the British team being the main topic, the Welshman outlined: “The communication between us has been good all year. It’s the main thing. We can use this as an advantage.” Second on line, Richard Carapaz said: “I’m better prepared than ever. Compared to last year that had been a strange year, we’ve trained and planned for the Tour all year this time. We come with a strong and powerful team and the race situation will decide which one of us the team will ride for.” Third overall last year, Richie Porte downplayed his own aim at leading the team. “I haven’t won a Grand Tour [at the difference of Thomas, Carapaz and Tao Geoghegan Hart]. I had my dream result last year. I just enjoy being back with this team at the moment. Pogacar is the benchmark. He and Roglic have that kick to open a gap and take bonus seconds as well, so to use the strength of our team is the only way to isolate them.” Geoghegan Hart, the winner of the 2020 Giro d’Italia, concluded: “The Tour de France is the race in which most riders can trace the origins of their love for cycling. I’m starting my first one with the most experienced group you can find in cycling, also in delivering the yellow jersey to Paris. The start in Brittany, which is a beautiful area, reminds me of the south of the UK with the Gaelic culture and the landscape. It’s massive for me to be here at the pinnacle of pro cycling.”
Simon Yates to take over from Michael Matthews in stage hunting
Going into its 10th straight Tour de France, Australia’s Team BikeExchange has named Lucas Hamilton as their GC contender and Michael Mathews, Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves for hunting for stage wins. Matthews is the first expected to enter in action. “The first two stages look quite interesting”, said the green jersey winner of the 2017 Tour de France. “They are much harder than everyone realizes. They award 50 points each for the green jersey, which can make a big gap to the pure sprinters. Stage 1 is not gonna be a straightforward bunch sprint. It’s very selective. There will be more riders involved than usual because the GC guys don’t want to lose any time. I’ve been working to be good at these sort of stages, not those that are too flat for me.” Simon Yates made a very direct answer. “I have no ambition for GC and I’ll be targeting stages from stage 8 onwards”, the Englishman declared. “I could have done well in the first two but we have better riders in the team. Mentally, it would have been too difficult for me to do Giro and Tour for GC. I also wouldn’t have come out of the Tour de France physically well for the Tokyo Olympics, which is a big goal for me, if I was racing for GC. It’s just better to go all in for a stage, take a few days off and then go for another one.”
Nibali and Mollema in the waiting room
Vincenzo Nibali has made his way back to Brest where he discovered the atmosphere of the Tour de France in 2008. “I remember it very well and it remains a wonderful memory”, said the winner of the 2014 Tour de France. “I wore the white jersey for a few days. This year, I’m not targeting GC. In my mind, Tadej Pogacar is the favourite. Depending on how my legs go, I might try something in the first few stages already. I’m here to break away and there’s a possibility that I’d quit the race before the end to focus on the Olympic road race. It was not easy to recover from the Giro but last week I’ve trained well for the national championship and the Tour de France.” Bauke Mollema, the other veteran from Trek-Segafredo, is back after crashing out last year on stage 13. “It was a complicated wrist injury”, the Dutchman recalled. “We’re here with a strong team, backing Mads Pedersen and Jasper Stuyven for the sprints but it’s a more stressful than any other race. More fans make more noise. It’s no different this year. The start in Brittany has lots of ups and downs. Vincenzo and I will go for it in the mountains.”