Mark Cavendish will continue his pursuit of Eddy Merckx’s all-time record for stage wins at the Tour de France but there is no place for Steve Cummings in the Team Dimension Data squad.
Cavendish has 30 career Tour de France stage wins, four short of the record held by five-time overall winner Merckx, and will take his place on the start line of the Tour for the 12th time.
The 33-year-old Manxman has battled a series of illnesses and injuries since winning four stages in the 2016 Tour, seeing his race ended by a crash on stage four last year, but is optimistic of making up more ground on Merckx.
“I’m so excited to be able to ride the Tour de France again in my career, for the third time in Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka,” Cavendish said.
“The Tour de France is not only the biggest cycling event on the planet but it’s one of the biggest sporting events on the planet; and it’s the best platform to get across what we as Team Dimension Data do for our charity Qhubeka, to get people in rural parts of Africa on bicycles.
“I’m excited to be part of a strong team and I’ll be looking at getting closer to that record of Eddie Merckx.”
Cummings, who won stages of the Tour in 2016 and 2017, misses out after a season disrupted by allergies. The 37-year-old was sidelined for several weeks after the Tour de Romandie at the start of May, returning for the Criterium du Dauphine earlier this month.
Instead, Dimension Data have gone with a team focused on delivering Cavendish to the front on sprint stages, with his long-time team-mate Mark Renshaw joined by Julien Vermote, Edvald Bassoon Hagen and Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg.
Serge Pauwels, winner of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire and third in this year’s edition, is also included along with Tom Jelte-Slagter and South African Jay Thomson.
UAE Team Emirates star Vegard Stake Laengen cruised to a first victory on his sixth attempt at the Norwegian National Road Race Championships.
The 29-year-old, who is in his second season with the UAE outfit, reached the finish line in Sandefjord, 13 seconds ahead of Rasmus Tiller and 29 ahead of Kristian Aasvold.
Of the 65 cyclists participating in the country’s most prestigious cycling event, Laengen stormed clear of the field thanks in part to the industrious work of UAE teammates Alexander Kristoff and Sven Bystrom.
It was Laengen’s sixth win of his career, with his last triumph coming two years ago in the overall classification in the Tour de l’Alsace in northeastern France.
The Fredrikstad native has enjoyed a mixed 2018 campaign to date, but success on home soil should boost his confidence ahead of a crucial month in which he could be selected in the UAE team for the Tour de France.
Laengen said: “The support of Bystrom and Kristoff was fundamental to allow me to be there in the final phases of such an important race for me.
“In the final kilometres, I was able to get into the decisive attack with the nine other attackers. And knowing that I had little chance in the sprint, I jumped early at four kilometres remaining and I was able to get to the line alone, giving my team a lot of joy.
“It’s a beautiful win, I’ll carry this jersey in every race now for the next year.”
As part of its ongoing commitment to inspire the next generation of cyclists, UAE Team Emirates has partnered with Dubai-based sports activity provider Just Play, to launch the UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy.
The three-week summer cycling programme – which targets boys and girls from 11-16 years-old and starts on Sunday, July 8 – coincides with the world’s most prestigious cycling race, the Tour de France.
The coaching clinics will teach youngsters the basics of indoor cycling, using professional training bikes in a purpose built, air-conditioned studio.
UAE and Asian Road Cycling Champion Yousif Mirza was joined by teammate Vegard Stake Laengen at Dubai Sports World as the pair met the first batch of UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy participants from Sunmarke International School in Dubai.
The pair provided useful tips on technique, shared memories of cycling as youngsters, and talked about what it takes to make it to the top, before they hopped on their bikes to demonstrate just how much power is in the legs of the elite rider.
Speaking at the launch, Mirza said: “It gives me so much pride to ride for UAE Team Emirates and fly the flag for my own country, because I know that our successes on the UCI World Tour will encourage more young people in the UAE to take up the sport.
“Launching a Youth Academy program is a great way to help youngsters get into cycling and doing it indoors at Dubai Sports World means they can get fit and stay healthy even during our hot summer months.”
The daily coaching clinics are themed around the 21 stages of the Tour de France and give youngsters the chance to experience some of the same conditions faced by riders competing on this year’s tour.
The UAE Team Emirates Youth Academy will run as part of the official Dubai Sports World Summer Camp programme from July 8-29.
For more information on how to book a place on the Youth Academy visit http://justplay.ae/summercamp/