As we approach the Grand Départ of the Tour de France (2.UWT), which will take place in Brest on June 26, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux has expressed its ambitions for this 108th edition of the Grande Boucle during a press conference this Thursday.
Jean-François Bourlart (CEO Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert):
“This will be our fourth Tour de France, but the first as a World Tour team. We understand the meaning of this new status and that is why we want to race as a World Tour team, being competitive and ambitious. We will aim for the best possible general classification with Louis Meintjes while competing for victory in as many stages as possible. For that purpose, our selection includes riders that will allow us to shine on any type of profile. As he proved in the past, the top 10 is possible for Louis Meintjes. We have a good chance of stage victory, notably in the sprints with Danny van Poppel. If we meet these two conditions once we arrive in Paris, we can then consider our Tour de France to be successful."
Aike Visbeek (Performance Manager) :
"In addition to the two main objectives that we have defined for this Tour, which are the general classification and stage victories, we also want to ride offensively, and thus keep the same proactive behavior from our previous participations. With the only difference that we have clearly defined the stages where we believe is appropriate to go in the breakaway. Our intention to participate in the breakaways will be more focused on the difficult stages rather than those favorable to the sprint finishes. Because we have faith in Danny van Poppel, who has a big engine and is able to also shine on stages where a reduced peloton will fight for victory. A stage win would be an important accomplishment for the team."
Hilaire Van der Schueren (Sports director) :
"Taco van der Hoorn's victory in the Giro gave us great emotions, and it makes us want to repeat the feat on this Tour de France. I know from experience that nothing is written in advance, and that only the riders make a stage difficult or not, whatever the profile. That being said, on the flat stages, we will need all our strength to accompany Danny van Poppel in the sprint. It will therefore be unlikely to see us in the breakaway on this type of stage, because our priority is to support the sprint train.”
Jan Bakelants :
"I missed the Tour de France and I am therefore very happy to be at the Grand Départ with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert. I want to play an active role in this Tour, but it will be difficult for the breakaways in the first days. There will be a lot of candidates for stage victory. I am convinced that we will have a controlled race and that it will be difficult for the fugitives to shine from the start. However, it may be interesting, if we take part in the breakaways, to use that opportunity to fight for the GPMs and wear the polka dot jersey early in this Tour."
Louis Meintjes :
"Since I came in this team, I feel good, it was the fresh start that I needed. I know I will be well surrounded in order to achieve my goal, which is the best possible overall classification in Paris. I can rely on strong riders who can protect me from the wind. Thanks to the program defined at the start of the season, I could enjoy an ideal preparation and my form today is where it needs to be. I am particularly impatient to see how the Andorra stage will unfold, because I know the area well, and it could be a decisive day for the GC race."
Danny van Poppel :
"It will be special to race the Tour de France alongside my brother Boy, for the first time since 2013, but also alongside our sports director at the time Hilaire Van der Schueren. I have fond memories from back then and I want to create new ones on this 108th edition. I came here to win, and I know I can rely on a dedicated sprint train, we have raced a lot together this seasons and today we have the automatisms to compete with the best sprinters."
Loïc Vliegen :
"I arrive confident at this Tour de France because I am now in good condition. After my come back at the Critérium du Dauphiné where I was not at 100%, I regained my form and today I have ambitions for breakaways. I will also be keen to take on the role of domestique for Danny van Poppel and Louis Meintjes, because we have objectives on this Tour and I will do everything to ensure that we achieve them."
Georg Zimmermann :
"For my first Tour de France, I don't want to set the bar too high in terms of goals, even though I remain ambitious. I want to defend the team's jersey in a breakaway as soon as I have the chance, as well as help our two leaders, Louis Meintjes and Danny van Poppel, the best I can."