The official start list of the 107th Tour de France has been released with 176 riders divided in 30 different nationalities. They’ll move into a bubble as part of the anti-Covid-19 measures.
Defending champion Egan Bernal expressed his ambitions as well as Frenchman Thibaut Pinot who was forced to a dramatic abandon last year.
Stage 1 from Nice to Nice will develop 156 kilometres. It suits the sprinters like Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett, Giacomo Nizzolo and Peter Sagan.
ANTI-COVID-19 MEASURES ARE IN PLACE
An important protocol has been built for several weeks along with French authorities and cycling governing bodies in order to prevent the Covid-19 from entering and circulating inside the Tour de France community. The number of accredited people has been reduced by 30% compare to 2019. They all have to present a negative PCR test before getting their pass. A bubble has been created around 650 people, comprising riders, staff members of cycling teams and race officials, all subject to two tests prior to the start and one per week of racing. It’s compulsory to wear a mask all along the route of the Tour de France. Access to the climbs will be filtered. 700.000 masks are available, half of them being for the crowd, as well as two tons of sanitizer. A 20-people strong medical Covid-19 division of the organisation is constantly in alert with a mobile laboratory able to run PCR tests whenever they’re needed.
EGAN BERNAL TO TARGET TIME GAIN BEFORE THE TIME TRIAL
Defending champion Egan Bernal gave an update about his health following his precautionary abandon at the Critérium du Dauphiné. “My back still hurts a little bit but I’m fine and I’m hoping to feel better and better and to have fully recovered for the last week”, the first ever Colombian winner of the Tour de France informed. “This time around, our team has more Hispanic flavour with four of us from Latin America or Spain but this is still an English squad with the same mentality that we clearly have to respect. The tactic might change but it depends less on the team’s composition [without Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas] than the race situation. In the past, the team had leaders like [Bradley] Wiggins and Froome who gained time against the clock and could defend their position. On the other hand, I need to attack in order to gain time before the time trial. Primož [Roglič] was the strongest at the Dauphiné. He was flying. We must pay attention to him and also to Tom Dumoulin. It’s something good for the race to have another strong team. We can share the responsibilities now. It’s no longer up to Ineos only.”
10 COLOMBIANS AT THE START… BUT ONLY TWO AUSTRALIANS
The 176 riders of the 107th Tour de France carry 30 different nationalities, France leading the pack with 39 cyclists ahead of Spain and Belgium (17). Colombia enjoys an unusual high number of 10 starters, half of them having already made the podium of a Grand Tour at least once: Egan Bernal, Nairo Quintana, Esteban Chaves, Rigoberto Uran and Miguel Angel Lopez. It’s far from the record number of 26 Colombians at the 1986 Tour de France when two Colombian teams (Café de Colombia and Postobon) participated but their highest ranked rider at the end was Samuel Cabrera, 11th at more than 35 minutes from Bernard Hinault. On the other hand, only two Australians line up this year: Caleb Ewan and Richie Porte. The last time there were so few riders from the land down under was in 2001 with Stuart O’Grady and Bradley McGee. Australian team Mitchelton-Scott didn’t select any of their compatriots for the first time since their inception in 2012.
FIRST TIME FOR ISRAEL AND ECUADOR
Last year’s Giro d’Italia winner Richard Carapaz is the first Ecuadorian to start the Tour de France. He’ll have the role of right-hand man for defending champion Egan Bernal. Guy Niv of Israel-Start-Up-Nation is the first Israeli to ride the Grande Boucle. He completed the Giro d’Italia last year. In 2016, Ethiopia’s Tsgabu Grmay was the last rider to add one country in the history of the fifty plus participating nations since the first edition in 1903.
THIBAUT PINOT FEELS NO PRESSURE: “IT CAN’T BE WORSE THAN LAST YEAR”
Thibaut Pinot is back at the Tour de France after his dramatic withdrawal last year. “I believe I’m mentally stronger and more serene and I feel less pressure than last year before the Tour because the outcome can’t be worse than what happened to me last year”, the Frenchman declared. “The bad experience boosted my confidence and I feel stronger now. My goal is the same as last year though. I still want to do my best and end up the highest possible. The winner of stage 4 to Orcières-Merlette will probably get the yellow jersey. I would certainly not consider it as a poisoned gift. I never had the yellow jersey so far and it would be a miss in my career if I was to never wear it. Moreover, the peloton will be a real steamroller in the first week. We as a team don’t have to rule the race. The important will be to perform at our best in the third week.”
ALEJANDRO VALVERDE IS THE OLDEST, MAXIME CHEVALIER IS THE YOUNGEST
42 neophytes will discover the Tour de France in the starting area of the Masséna square in Nice. The oldest is Belgium’s Ben Hermans, 34. The most famous debutant is certainly Miguel Angel Lopez who already finished third at the Giro d’Italia and La Vuelta in 2018. It’ll be the first Grand Tour for ten of them, including the youngest participant: Frenchman Maxime Chevalier from B&B-Vital Concept, aged 21. Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Mathieu Burgaudeau (Total Direct Energie) are yet to celebrate their 22nd birthday. The oldest starter is Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), aged 40, the same as Raymond Poulidor when he finished third overall in 1976. The Spaniard is also the most experienced with twelve participations under his belt, the first one having taken place in 2005. He’s followed by Tony Martin (11), Imanol Erviti and Pierre Rolland (10).