Dan Martin will target the general classification at the Tour de France but his UAE Team Emirates squad will have split ambitions with sprinter Alexander Kristoff also named in the squad.
Irishman Martin is looking to build on his 2017 performance when he finished sixth in the Tour despite racing for almost two weeks with two broken vertebrae in his back after a crash on stage nine.
“Since I signed for Team UAE, the big goal has been the Tour de France,” said Martin, who last year rode for Quick-Step Floors.
“I plan to take the race day by day, stage by stage and try to achieve the best results possible. It’s really a race of two halves and the first nine days will be very tricky bringing different challenges each day, but I’m confident we have a great team that can get me to the mountains in a good position to have a bit of fun.”
Martin has had some encouraging results in the build-up to the race, finishing 10th overall in the Tour de Romandie and fourth in the Criterium du Dauphine.
There is no place for Yorkshireman Ben Swift in the team, with ambitions split between Martin’s general classification bid and European champion Kristoff in the sprints.
“This is the biggest race in the world.” Kristoff said. “The event where you get all the best cyclists, the best sprinters. I am going to France determined to get the best result possible and, if possible, a stage victory.”
The eight-man team is completed by Marco Mercato, Rory Sutherland, Roberto Ferrari, Oliviero Troia, Darwin Atapuma and Kristijan Durasek.
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.”