Saxo Tinkoff Team Preview

Saxo Tinkoff announced the team they are sending to the Tour de France today and though the majority are riders we expected there are a couple of rather baffling picks.

Michael Rogers,
Roman Kreuziger,
Nicolas Roche,
Matteo Tosatto,
Daniele Bennati,
Sergio Paulinho,
Alberto Contador,
Jesus Hernandez,
Benjamin Noval,

The team is solely centered around Alberto Contador and his quest for yellow at the Tour de France and therefore Saxo have sent ample mountain support in the form of Roman Kreuziger and Nicolas Roche. Roche is a perennial Top 20 Grand Tour rider whilst Kreuziger won Amstel Gold this year and looked competitive in the Tour de Suisse.

Michael Rogers, snatched from Sky, will most likely act as the road captain of the team. He will marshal the team through the stages and will lend vital tactical advice when required. Paulinho and Hernandez are both experienced domestiques who are very able climbers, Hernandez looked promising in the recent Criterium Du Dauphine and Paulinho was superb as Contador won the Vuelta last year.

Away from the climbing support, Contador will require support on the flat road stages where he will want to ensure his team manoeuvre him up through the peloton and away from the hazard of crashes. Therefore Saxo have opted for veteran Italian Matteo Tosatto who will be integral in controlling the peloton on the flat.

The other two berths are filled by Danielle Bennati and Benjamin Noval. Noval whilst being experienced does not provide much in the way of on road support. His best result this year to date was 35th in the Tour of Norway and he abandoned the Dauphine just two weeks ago. Such a rider does not deserve a place at the Tour especially when Saxo have very capable alternatives in the form of the two Danish riders, Nicki and Chris Anker Sorensen or CAS as he is known. CAS rode a stellar Tour last year where he finished 14th overall and came Top 10 on a number of high profile mountain stages, yet he misses out for Noval simply because Contador has ridden alongside Noval throughout his career and they are close friends. Friends on not though the decision may backfire if Contador finds himself lacking support at any point during the race.

Bennati is also a peculiar pick; he is regarded as a sprinter but he has not achieved much success in the past few years. Furthermore the Tour team is focused solely on Contador and any other objectives such as sprinting will have to be discarded if Saxo intend to challenge Team Sky. He can act as a more than capable domestique but Saxo may have been better off bringing a standard workhorse rider such as Michael Morkov or one of the Sorensens.

The Saxo team is undoubtedly immensely strong in the mountains. The mixture of experience and raw 
talent is very evident and will stand Contador in good stead, yet come Paris he may regret having disregarded CAS for lesser riders. 

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