Mark Cavendish will lead Dimension Data at the Tour de France this July as he looks to add to his tally of 30 stage wins. The team are giving Cavendish its full backing, with Tom-Jelte Slagter the only climber of note in the eight-man line-up announced in South Africa. Edvald Boasson Hagen will likely take over team leadership for uphill finishes after winning a stage and taking five top three placings in 2017.
“We’re very focused on that. If you look at the Tour de France there are eight flat sprint stages, which is significant,” team manager Doug Ryder said at an event in South Africa.
“We’re going to focus heavily on those and then be a bit opportunistic in the Alps and the Pyrenees. The first nine days of the 2018 Tour de France are critical for us and we’re going to go in strong and hard, and hopefully make an impact.”
Notably, Steve Cummings has not been named in the line-up after a difficult start to the season. The 37-year-old won the team’s first Grand Tour stage on Mandela day and won another stage in 2016. He has failed to finish a series of races this year, including the recent Criterium du Dauphine and did not defend his national time trial title at the British Road Championships on Thursday.
Cavendish is just four Tour de France stage wins off the record of 34, set by Eddy Merckx, and took four stage victories for the team at the 2016 Tour de France. He crashed out of last year’s race after tangling with Peter Sagan in the finale of stage 4. The Manxman has had a difficult start to the 2018 season, with just one win after a series of three crashes put him out of racing for two months.
In their vision for 2020, along with getting an African rider on the podium at the Tour de France, Dimension Data have stated their ambition to help Cavendish break the Tour de France stage win record. With that in mind, they have selected a line-up that leads heavily towards the sprints.
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