Tuesday 26 June 2012

Tour de France 2012: The Teams - Radioshack-Nissan

With the Tour de France only days away Radioshack-Nissan should have been preparing the only other previous winner for the Tour. But 2010 winner (upon removal of Alberto Contador) Andy Schleck suffered a fall in the Critérium Dauphiné that fractured his pelvis which means he will be going for a fourth podium in a row.

However, the team is still strong having another podium finisher from last year in the team who just happens to share the same name.

Fränk Schleck in recent years the Tour has seen the Schleck brothers often riding in tandem through the high Mountain passed. But of course in 2010 on the cobbles of stage 3 Fränk crashed out. But last year their one-two strikes returned and they both ended up on the Podium with Fränk taking third. Like his brother hs has worn yellow in the Tour before but while he is strong in the mountains it is often his time trailling that lets him down. So with 94.8km over the two time trials this year. Either he is going to have to make big inroads in the mountains or have lifted his time trialling ability to be able to hold on in the penultimate stage especially if Wiggins and Evans end up as his main rivals.

Fabian Cancellara time trialling is no difficulty to the four time World Champion in that discipline. He is also a classics winner having won Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris Robaix (twice). But he is also handy to have in the mountains able to put in long turns that can help his leader hit the last climb in the right place and state to make an impact.

Chris Horner managed to come 9th in the 2010 Tour despite in the start working for his team leader Lance Armstrong. In 2010 he won Vuelta al País Vasco and last year the Tour of California. He will be handy man for Schleck to have all the way through the mountains and although 40 now may well be able to spring the other half of the one-two attacks to help Schleck in th GC. Last year an early crash on the flat first week meant he left the Tour.

Andreas Klöden will actually be the man with the best finishing position in previous Tours in this Radioshack team with his two seconds in 2004 and 2006 while with T-Mobile. He won the 2011 Vuelta al País Vasco and came second in Paris-Nice. But like Horner crashes early last year curtailed his Tour, he returned for the Vuelta but again withdrew early. Still yet another strong component of Radioshack's team when the roads go up.

Yaroslav Popovychwas 3rd in the Giro d'Italia as far back as 2003 but has never been on the podium at the end of a Grand Tour since. Although he was best Young Rider in the Tour in 2005 when finishing 12th and managed 8th in 2007 while working for Contador and Levi Leipheimer. But having ridden for some of the best through mountains another part of the Radioshack engine that takes the Schlecks upwards.

Jens Voigt may have worn the yellow jersey twice but it is as one of the best rouleurs in the peleton that he is best known because he is not great in high mountains. In 2006 he took a stage in the Tour as part of a five man break that finished 29 minutes 58 seconds up the road from the leaders. Expect to see him just plodding away keeping things tight for Radioshack on the flatter stages.

Maxime Monfort is another climber on this team. He finished 6th in last year's tough Vuelta. Therefore he is yet another man who will marshall Schleck through the mountain passes.

Haimar Zubeldia has twice been 5th in the Tour (2003 and 2007) while riding for Euskaltel-Euskadi which tells you that he is a Basque cyclist. In that 2003 Tour he had great finishes against Lance Armstrong and Jan Ullrich. But yet another strong rider who has been in the top 10 of Grand Tours (six in all) showing the strength in depth of this team.

 Tony Gallopin is a young French rider who is in the Tour to be an engine for Schleck when it is required on the flat.  Haimar Zubeldia

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