Thursday, June 30, 2011

tour de france 2011

LES HERBIERS, France — Jonathan Vaughters couldn’t hold back his smile Thursday as he discussed the Garmin-Cervélo lineup for the 2011 Tour de France.

Jonathan Vaughters | VeloNews file photo, Brad Kaminski © VeloNews

Courting the press in a French elementary school library, because the team hotel didn’t have enough space to accommodate the media, Vaughters was like a proud professor ready to watch his understudies to take on the world.

“This is the best team we’ve ever fielded for a Tour, without a doubt,” Vaughters said. “Our ambitions are higher than they’ve ever been before, but we have the capability to aim higher than ever before.”

To his right were reigning world champion Thor Hushovd and sprinter ace Tyler Farrar and to his left were Americans Christian Vande Velde and Dave Zabriskie. The rest of the squad, perhaps appropriately enough for cycling’s “clean team,” were undergoing blood screenings at the nearby hotel as part of the UCI’s testing program for the biological passport.

Vaughters said Garmin-Cervélo brings a well-rounded squad that can target stage victories in all terrain as well as aim for a high GC placing with Vande Velde and Canadian Ryder Hesjedal, who rode to a surprising seventh last year.

The team’s first goal is to win a stage, something that’s eluded them so far through three Tours.

“Although we’ve had some success in the Tour, we’ve yet to win a stage,” he said. “That’s our first objective. We’ve got to get that monkey off our backs.”

Vaughters insisted that the team will take an “all for one, one for all” mentality into the Tour. Hushovd and Farrar are expected to split up the sprint stages while Vande Velde and Hesjedal can share the leadership on the GC front. Garmin-Cervélo will search out stage wins in the sprints and the transition stages before hoping for the best in the GC battle in the Pyrénées and the Alps. Vaughters promises that the team will ride as a unit.

“We will support the best-positioned rider in each scenario we will find ourselves,” Vaughters explained. “Everyone here is professional and we’re all working for the same goals. We can adapt to the race conditions and ride together. We will be chasing stage wins and the yellow jersey.”

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