Australian outfit Mitchelton-SCOTT has named an in-form, eight-rider team to line up at the Tour de France, poised to deliver results across the three-week race as it maintains its focus on the general classification.
The team will be built around 2016 Tour de France best young rider and fourth-place getter Adam Yates, with a diverse team of specialists to guide the 25-year-old through a dangerous and unpredictable first nine days before the climbers come to the fore in the mountains.
Jack Bauer (NZL, 33) – 5th TDF appearance
Luke Durbridge (AUS, 27) – 5th TDF appearance
Mathew Hayman (AUS, 40) – 4th TDF appearance
Michael Hepburn (AUS, 26) – debut
Damien Howson (AUS, 25) – 2nd TDF appearance
Daryl Impey (RSA, 33) – 6th TDF appearance
Mikel Nieve (SPA, 34) – 5th TDF appearance
Adam Yates (GBR, 25) – 3rd TDF appearance
With multiple stage wins and top-5 overall performances at Volta a la Comunitat Valencia, Tirreno-Adriatico, Tour of California and runner-up at the recent Criterium du Dauphine, Yates has had a stellar 2018 season despite the set-back of a fractured pelvis in March and has proved his worth as the team’s leader.
The Briton will be supported by the engines of Australian trio Luke Durbridge, Mathew Hayman and Michael Hepburn and New Zealand’s Jack Bauer, who will be crucial teammates in the opening stages where crosswinds and cobbles have the potential to derail July campaigns. They also create a formidable base for the team time trial which will be a crucial early showdown for the GC contenders.
2018 Tour Down Under champion and recent Criterium du Dauphine stage winner Daryl Impey adds strength and experience in the transitional stages as one of the best all-round riders in the world.
Giro d’Italia stage winner Mikel Nieve, who supported Simon Yates in Italy in May will be the only man backing up after the team’s successful Giro campaign this year. He will return for the Tour de France and team up with another Australian in Damien Howson to play the all-important support roles in the mountains.
The Objective – Continuing the GC trajectory:
A vision from 2014, with the signing of a promising trio of young climbers in Adam and Simon Yates and Esteban Chaves, Mitchelton-SCOTT will continue their vision to become major general classification players across the UCI calendar.
Original plans were to split the Tour de France team between GC and sprint ambitions with Caleb Ewan. However, this season’s results have seen the high-performance team throw their support behind Yates as sole leader for the Tour de France with ambitions for results across all three weeks of the Tour.
Already with overall podiums at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana in 2016, Mitchelton-SCOTT hope to add the Tour de France to this collection in 2018.
There’s no easing into what is already the most stressful race on the calendar. The first nine days might not win you the race, but it can certainly end it for some general classification contenders, particularly if the weather turns bad.
Early coastal stages, followed by a team time trial on stage three and mini-Roubaix race on stage nine will be crucial, before the first serious mountain has even hit. Further spicing up an always entertaining final week is a brutal 65km ‘three-pass’ stage that is one not to miss.
In total, the 21 stages of the Tour de France will cover 3351km and feature eight flat stages, five hilly stages, six mountain stages, an individual and team time trial.
Mitchelton-SCOTT has finished in the top ten overall in the past two years (4th in 2016 and 7th in 2017), both times claiming the best young rider’s white jersey.
Prior to that, that team’s emphasis was on stage victories and in its six appearances at the French Grand Tour the Australian outfit has claimed three – two in 2013 and one in 2016.
2013 was a particularly special edition and a major highlight in the team’s history. The two stage victories (Simon Gerrans and Team Time Trial) resulted in four days in the race leader’s yellow jersey – two days for Gerrans before he famously passed it onto teammate Impey.
Matt White – Head Sports Director:
“In what has been an incredibly successful season for the team already, we are really excited by the strength and potential of the eight riders we’ve selected for this year’s Tour de France. We know the depth of the field and our ambitions are high but whatever happens I am confident in the group assembled and their ability to deliver our objectives across the full three-weeks of racing.
“Adam’s performance continues to improve in leaps and bounds. He has had major setbacks this year and still his performances have been impressive to say the least. We have complete faith and belief in his ability as our leader at the Tour de France.
“This year’s Tour de France is almost a race of two halves – the unpredictability of the first half and mountains of the second. We have a selected a diverse team, and one that can handle any situation that may be thrown in our path. We know the strength of this team as a unit and it’s the first year we have been able to assemble such depth at both Grand tours we have lined up in.
“There have been some really tough decisions made this week, the toughest in our organisation’s history. We have 12 riders who are ready to go, but based on our performances this season we believe we have selected the best group who can deliver our objectives at the Tour de France next month.”
Adam Yates – Team Leader:
“I’ve got great memories of the Tour in 2016 and it’s great to be back!
“At the moment, everything is going great. In both of my previous races (California and Dauphine) I came back at a really good level despite not having the ideal preparation. I even managed a stage win at the end of the Dauphine, which is great for the confidence ahead of my biggest goal of the season.
“As always with the Tour de France, there is a lot of stress and nervousness in the bunch in the first few days, especially with the possibility of crosswinds or splits.
“But, I’ve got a great team focused around giving me the best opportunity to ride a strong GC, whether that’s on the flats or in the big mountain stages. We have great strength and depth which means we are able to perform under all circumstances.”