Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) will battle for sprint supremacy against Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) and Arnaud Demare (FDJ.fr) at the Tour de France – but there’s no place on the Leeds start line for Giro d’Italia red jersey winner Nacer Bouhanni.
Greipel and Demare have been confirmed as the lead sprinters for their respective teams and will join the likes of Cavendish, Marcel Kittel (Giant-Shimano) and Peter Sagan (Cannondale) in contesting the Tour’s bunch sprints.
However, Bouhanni, who had hoped his three stage wins at the Giro would allow him to force his way into the reckoning after injury and illness forced him to abandon the Tour last time out, is not selected.
Instead, FDJ.fr’s sprinting hopes will rest with 22-year-old Tour debutant Demare, who has prepared for the race by sprinting to overall successes at the Tour de Picardie and Four Days of Dunkirk this season.
He will be backed by lead-out men William Bonnet and Mickael Delage, while Arnold Jeannesson, Matthieu Ladagnous and Jérémy Roy also make the cut.
It means Demare could repeat his RideLondon 2013 success on the Mall, with stage three finishing at the scene of his triumph in last year’s inaugural race.
Paris-Nice stage winner, and third place overall, Arthur Vichot and 24-year-old Thibaut Pinot, a stage winner at the Tour in 2012, are also included..
The final place in the French team’s nine-man squad – which consists entirely of French riders – will go to either Cedric Pineau or Francis Mourey, to be decided after the French national championships.
Lotto-Belisol, meanwhile, will follow Omega Pharma-Quickstep’s suit by supporting a double-pronged attack at the Tour.
Greipel will lead the sprints, with his well-oiled leadout of Greg Henderson, Jurgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg all included.
Greipel, who started the season as the form sprinter before crashing out of Gent-Wevelgem and missing a month through injury, has returned to form of late.
Five stage wins across a range of UCI Europe Tour races means he takes to the start line in good shape for an attempt to foil the anticipated Kittel-Cavendish battle in Harrogate.
Meanwhile, Jurgen van den Broeck, third at the Criterium du Dauphine, will lead the team’s GC hopes as he looks to atone for his disappointment in 2013, when his race came to a premature conclusion as a result of a season-ending knee injury.
The Belgian’s return to form at the Dauphine came at the perfect time and Bart de Clercq, Lars Bak and Tony Gallopin are among the riders set to support him.
The nine-man line-up is completed by Australian hard-man Adam Hansen who takes to the start line of his ninth consecutive Grand Tour – the 33-year-old having completed each of the last eight.
FDj.fr squad for the 2014 Tour de France
Arnaud Demare (FRA)
Thibaut Pinot (FRA)
Matthieu Ladagnous (FRA)
William Bonnet (FRA)
Mickael Delage (FRA)
Arthur Vichot (FRA)
Jeremy Roy (FRA)
Arnold Jeannesson (FRA)
Francis Mourey (FRA)/Cedric Pineau (FRA)*
*to be decided after the French National Championships
Lotto-Belisol squad for the 2014 Tour de France
Andre Greipel (GER)
Jurgen van den Broeck (BEL)
Adam Hansen (AUS)
Tony Gallopin (FRA)
Jurgen Roelandts (BEL)
Bart de Clercq (BEL)
Lars Bak (DEN)
Greg Henderson (NZL)
Marcel Sieberg (GER)