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Tour de France - J.F. Bourlart : "A well balanced squad"

Tour de France - J.F. Bourlart : "A well balanced squad"

This Saturday, June 26 in Brest, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will participate in the fourth Grand Départ in its history. Until July 18, the Belgian team will compete in the 108th edition of the Tour de France (2.UWT), which is starting this year in one of the crown jewels of French cycling, Brittany. This edition of the Grand Boucle includes three mountaintop finishes, two days in the Alps, five in the Pyrenees, 58 kilometers of time trial and eight stages favorable to sprinters.

The riders will first spend four days in Brittany, starting with two uphill finishes, in Landerneau (3.2 km at 5.3%) and Mûr-de-Bretagne (2 km at 6.9%). The first of the two individual times comes the fifth day, with 27.2 kilometers of flat in Mayenne. After two transition stages in the center of France, the eighth stage crosses the Alps with three 1st category climbs, including the Col de la Colombière, towards Grand Bornand. The first week ends with a finish atop the Tignes climb (21 km at 5.6%), preceded by the Col des Saisies, the Col du Pré and the Cormet de Roselend.

After the first rest day, the peloton will rally Valence for a probable sprint finish, before a legendary stage which will take on Mont Ventoux twice, first via Sault and then via Bédoin. This eleventh stage will be judged at the bottom of the second descent of Mont Chauve, after 200 kilometers. The Grande Boucle then stops for two days in Occitania, in Nîmes and Carcassonne, before starting a Pyrenean trip of five stages. The fifteenth, judged in the Principality of Andorra, will have as its highest point the Port d'Envalira (2408 meters), where the Souvenir Henri-Desgrange will be awarded.

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To start the last week, the peloton crosses the Ariège with climbs such as Portet-d'Aspet, but again the finish is judged in the valley, in Saint-Gaudens. On July 14, a triptych is on the menu for the seventeenth stage, with Peyresourde, Val-Louron and the climb of Saint-Lary (2209 meters), which will welcome the second summit finish of this edition. The eighteenth stage, the last in the mountains, is short but intense: a passage through the Col du Tourmalet before reaching Luz-Ardiden after 129 kilometers. The second time trial, flat and 31 kilometers long, takes place the day after a flat stage and on the eve of the arrival in Paris, on the Champs-Élysées.

The selection of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux will include in its ranks the Belgian Jan Bakelants, stage winner in Ajaccio in 2013 and wearing the yellow jersey during this same 100th edition. This is the sixth participation of the 35-year-old rider, who will be the most experienced member of the group. Eighth in the Tour de France in 2016 and 2017, the South African Louis Meintjes will be the man protected for the general classification. Alongside them, Dutch sprinter Danny van Poppel, who has finished on the podium four times this season, will be able to count on his brother Boy van Poppel and German Jonas Koch to negotiate the sprint finishes. Climber Georg Zimmermann, who with Koch recently finished on the German Championship podium, will make his Grand Boucle debut, as will Italian Lorenzo Rota and Belgian Loïc Vliegen. These eight men will be led by Hilaire Van der Schueren, Aike Visbeek and Steven De Neef.
 

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Jean-François Bourlart (CEO Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert) :
“As every year, making the selection for the Tour de France is a difficult task. This inevitably caused joys but also disappointments. We took into account various parameters: route, objectives and chances of results, state of form of the riders,… We were looking for a good balance between profiles for the high mountains, but also for the sprint and transition stages. I am convinced that we have put together the best group possible. "

“Our Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert team is extremely motivated for this Tour de France. The start is taking place in the garden of our new title partner, Intermarché, so we owe it to ourselves to be up to it. Like our successful Giro d´Italia, we want to show ourselves to our advantage on as many stages as possible: in the breakaways, in the sprints but also in the mountains around Louis Meintjes. For that matter, our selection is well balanced in order to achieve our two main objectives: to win a stage and to place Louis as high as possible in the final general classification in Paris, because we must not forget that he entered the final top 8 twice."


Aike Visbeek (Performance Manager) :
“All the candidates for this Tour de France have shown one by one that they are ready for this great event. When I look at the pre-selection that we had established this winter in our annual performance plan, only one name has changed and that’s a nice compliment to our entire Performance Team. "

“We've been working since the start of the year on a sprint train around Danny and Boy Van Poppel and Jonas Koch. The preparation has not always been smooth, but their peak of form is approaching, as the last few weeks have shown, and this trio will take every chance to prove themselves. On the other hand, we have ambitions for the GC with Louis Meintjes and an experienced Jan Bakelants by his side. Jan has shown during the mountain stages at the Dauphiné that he can help Louis. Finally, we welcome three riders who will make their Tour debut: Loic Vliegen, Georg Zimmerman and Lorenzo Rota. With this trio, we want to go on the offensive and maybe create a surprise. "

“The riders included in this selection for the Tour benefited from ideal preparation, some via altitude courses in Italy and Andorra, but also in competition via the Dauphiné, the Tour de Belgique and the Tour de Suisse. I am very happy with the work done behind the scenes by our team, both in terms of nutrition where we have made great progress, but also at the material level, which is of quality and constantly evolving. We have worked hard and are ready to continue our Giro's momentum on the roads of the Tour de France. "

Hilaire Van der Schueren (sport director) :
“As usual, we want to show the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux jersey every day. From day one, in hilly Brittany, the race will be explosive, with difficult finishes like at Mûr-de-Bretagne. Our punchers will find an interesting playing field very early in this edition. But we also want to feature well with Danny van Poppel in the flat stages and protect Louis Meintjes in the mountain stages. "

“At the end of our previous participation, in 2019, the twelfth place of Guillaume Martin allowed us to occupy the eighth rank of cars on the Champs-Elysées, and we hope to be able to do this again in a few weeks thanks to our South African leader. All the riders in the selection have shown in recent weeks that they are ready for this event. The enthusiasm at the start in Brest, for my 24th Tour de France, is therefore great. "


The selection :
Jan Bakelants
Jonas Koch
Louis Meintjes
Lorenzo Rota
Boy van Poppel
Danny van Poppel
Loïc Vliegen
Georg Zimmermann

Sports directors :
Hilaire Van der Schueren
Aike Visbeek
Steven De Neef

Tour de France 2021 :
26.06 Etape 1 : Brest - Landerneau (187 km)
27.06 Etape 2 : Perros-Guirec - Mür-de-Bretagne (182 km)
28.06 Etape 3 : Lorient - Pontivy (182 km)
29.06 Etape 4 : Redon - Fougères (152 km)
30.06 Etape 5 : Changé - Laval (27 km) (ITT)
01.07 Etape 6 : Tours - Châteauroux (144 km)
02.07 Etape 7 : Vierzon - Le Creusot (248 km)
03.07 Etape 8 : Oyonnax - Le-Grand-Bornand (151 km)
04.07 Etape 9 : Cluses - Tignes (145 km)
06.07 Etape 10 : Albertville - Valence (186 km)
07.07 Etape 11 : Sorgues - Malaucène (199 km)
08.07 Etape 12 : Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux - Nîmes (161 km)
09.07 Etape 13 : Nîmes - Carcassonne (220 km)
10.07 Etape 14 : Carcassonne - Quillan (184 km)
11.07 Etape 15 : Céret - Andorra-La-Vieille (192 km)
13.07 Etape 16 : Pas de la Case - Saint-Gaudens (169 km)
14.07 Etape 17 : Muret - Saint-Lary-Soulan (178 km)
15.07 Etape 18 : Paul - Luz Ardiden (130 km)
16.07 Etape 19 : Mourenx - Libourne (203 km)
17.07 Etape 20 : Libourne - Saint-Emilion (31 km) (ITT)
18.07 Etape 21 : Chatou - Paris (112 km)