Johnny Hoogerland, who famously rode to the finish of stage nine of the 2011 Tour de France after being catapulted through a barbed wire fence, will roll out in Corsica for Vacansoleil-DCM for the hundredth edition of cycling’s biggest race on Saturday June 29.
And the Dutchman, who needed 33 stitches to the deep wounds in legs, will be accompanied by former Team Sky rider, Juan Antonio Flecha, who was involved in the same collision, after being hit by a car in the race convoy.
The duo, who shared the combativity award after riding to Saint Flour to complete the stage in which both were lucky to escape without lasting injury, form part of an impressive line-up for the Dutch-registered squad.
A strong line-up for the men in blue and yellow includes the surprise selection of 19-year-old Danny Van Poppel, son of the former green jersey winner, Jean-Paul, who racked up nine Tour de France stage wins in a glittering career.
Directuer sportif, Aart Vierhouten, said the selection of the younger Van Poppel (his brother, Boy, will also contest the Tour) said he was confident the teenager would cope with the challenge of riding in the sport’s hardest race.
“Danny van Poppel making the team is probably the biggest surprise for outsiders”, said Vierhouten, who has worked with Danny Van Poppel for three years.
“Nineteen is young, but luckily that is not a problem in the Tour today. The young kids they are able to connect, where this was impossible ten years ago.
“Danny is a kid who needs new challenges all the time, but without the pressure. Talent needs to be stimulated. We believe that this is a logical step in his career.
“The Tour will be an awesome experience for him, and very valuable for his future as a cyclist.”
The Van Poppel brothers will lead the charge for their employers on the flat stages that will hold the greatest hopes for a team that describes itself as having established a reputation for a “surprising, passionate and attractive style of racing.”
Kris Boeckmans, another of the team’s fast men, who finished eighth on stage four of his debut Tour last year, will return to the biggest race in cycling. The Dutchman finished second at the La Samyn classic for the second successive year in February
The team’s main hope for the general classification will be Thomas de Gendt. The talented Belgian, still only 26, produced a hugely impressive ride last year to win the Queen stage of the 2012 Giro d’Italia.
De Gendt followed his victory at the summit of the Passo dello Stelivo by finishing fifth in the following day’s final stage time trial, and claiming third overall.
Dutch national time trial champion, Lieuwe Westra, is another contender for the final top 10. Westra’s impressive 2013 campaign includes victory on the opening stage of the Tour of California, a place on the final podium at the Volta ao Algarve, and top 10 finsihes at Paris-Nice, the Three Days of De Panne, and Étoile de Bessèges.
Wout Poels will be another to carry Vaconsoleil-DCM’s hopes into the high mountains. The Dutchman has accrued top 10 finishes in Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour of the Basque Country this season.
Uzbek national champion, Sergey Lagutin, a former under-23 world road race champion, and the fifth-placed finsiher in last year’s Olympic road race, completes the line-up.
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Tour de France 2013 – Vacansoleil-DCM
Danny Van Poppel
Boy Van Poppel
Juan Antonio Flecha
Thomas de Gendt