Argos-Shimano will start the Tour de France with a double-pronged sprint attack having named both Marcel Kittel and John Degenkolb in their nine-man line-up.
The Dutch team will be built around the two German sprinters, with Kittel targeting stage wins from bunch sprints and Degenkolb seeking success on hillier finishes.
“We will be looking for stage wins at this Tour de France and have lined up the strongest team possible to achieve this,” said directeur sportif Christian Guiberteau.
“In the flat stages, Marcel Kittel will be leading our team to sprint success. When the bunch hits some of the hillier stages, we have Giro stage winner John Degenkolb who can be successful. We are also looking forward to seeing a strong sprint train.”
Kittel made his Tour de France debut in 2012 but was forced to abandon the race in the second week after falling ill, while Degenkolb will make his first appearance in La Grande Boucle.
Kittel has already recorded 11 victories so far this season, including the third stage of last week’s Ster ZLM Toer, where he claimed the scalp of both Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).
Degenkolb, meanwhile, recorded a top ten finish in the Tour of Flanders before winning stage five of the Giro d’Italia, although the 24-year-old later abandoned.
The Tour de France will see the best sprinters in the world assemble and both Kittel and Degenkolb will face challenges Cavendish, Greipel and Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling), who is targeting a second consecutive green jersey.
However, Guiberteau believes his team’s sprint train, which includes Dutch powerhouses Tom Veelers and Koen de Kort, is capable of mixing it with the best.
“Creating the perfect sprint train takes years,” said Guiberteau. “The key to our train is the combination of science and experience. All the team members can anticipate a situation very well and have the experience to handle all possible scenarios.
“Extensive evaluations post-race makes the difference, together with the best equipment, specific training plans and scientific experts who provide us with unique and useful data about the riders and individual race courses.
“Tom Veelers and Koen de Kort will be the most important leadout men for the sprint stages. Veelers has a big engine in the last 500m but his true additional value is that he knows and feels what a sprinter knows and feels.
“De Kort will be important for Degenkolb in the hillier stages, and we expect him to be aiming for the breaks in the second half of the Tour.”
Roy Curvers, Tom Dumoulin , Johannes Fröhlinger, Simon Geschke and Albert Timmer complete the squad.
Guiberteau added: “Albert Timmer, Roy Curvers and Johannes Fröhlinger are all huge team players. Curvers is our brain on the bike and the road captain to guide the team in the sprint stages. Timmer is an invisible force and knows without question what he needs to do and when. Before anyone else thinks about it, he has already done it. I also see him in a break in one of the more difficult stages.
“In addition to contesting the sprint stages, we will adopt an offensive strategy for the tougher stages. All the riders, especially in the second part of the Tour, will have their chance to chase individual success.
“In the time trial we are looking forward to seeing Tom Dumoulin, who has made huge improvements this season. Simon Geschke is also capable of making the difference when the course includes some hills and he can envisage some strong results.
“Fröhlinger is also a very intelligent rider and knows what to do. He will play an important role in chasing down breaks, but he can also make the difference in hillier stages.”
Is Marcel Kittel the man to lead the sprint attack in your RoadCyclingUK Fantasy Tour de France squad? Select the nine riders who will guide you to victory at http://rcuktourdefrance.fantasyleague.com.