Tour de France 2016: the riders speak!

The pre-Tour de France team press conferences are a great opportunity to catch up with the riders and get their individual takes on the forthcoming race. It’s not physically possible to attend all 22 conferences as half are held at the teams’ hotels while the other half are taking place in the Press Centre. So I’m just going to home in on a few.

Fabian at Press Conference Team Trek - Segafredo © Tim De Waele

Fabian at Press Conference  © GETTY/Tim De Waele

At the Trek-Segafredo event, all eyes were on Fabian Cancellara who was asked whether his final Tour would be an emotional one (it will be for Kitty). The Sacred Haunches™ replied:

No, because I’ve already had so many similar questions [at other races]. For me the Classics period was more of a focus. It’s not a farewell race, I’m looking to perform. It’s business as usual, nothing different. It’s bigger for the younger riders like Jasper [Stuyven] and Edward [Theuns]. I’m quite relaxed and looking that everything goes well and I stay healthy. The Tour has given me lots of nice things but I don’t want it to be like last year.

Nor do we, Fabian!

Cycling: 103rd Tour de France 2016 / PC BMC Racing Team Amael MOINARD (FRA) Press Conference BMC Racing Team (USA) / TDF / © Tim De Waele

Amael at the Press Conference © GETTY/Tim De Waele

At BMC’s conference, friend of VeloVoices Amael Moinard was introduced as the team’s “Local Weapon” – he hails from the stage two finish town of Cherbourg. Naturally, he’s delighted to be taking part in this year’s Tour and, on the eve of the race, the team announced that it had extended his contract for a further year, which will be his seventh with the team.

You may recall, Amael was part of Cadel Evan‘s Tour winning 2011 team, one of five BMC riders here who have been part of a victorious Tour squad. The others are Richie Porte, Marcus Burghardt, Brent Bookwalter and Michael Schar. All that experience must count for something.

Amael confirmed it would be a special tour for him:

As a kid, you dream of this every day and I’ll remember this Tour every day of my life. I hope to use my local knowledge to help Greg [Van Avermaet] win stage two.

Most teams, seemed to believe that stage one, and the first yellow jersey, would be won by a pure sprinter who, they hoped, would be unlikely to contest the uphill finish on stage two. This finish favours more of the Classics type of rider who’ll be looking to lift both the stage and the jersey.

Cycling: 103rd Tour de France 2016 / PC Team Orica GreenEdge Matthew WHITE (AUS) Team Manager / Press Conference Team ORICA GREENEDGE (AUS) / TDF / © Tim De Waele

Matthew White at Press Conference Team  ©GETTY/ Tim De Waele

The newly christened Orica-Bike Exchange, also seemed to have their eyes on stage two, and the golden fleece. Directeur sportif Matt White refused to be drawn on which of his riders would be aiming for this particular prize though they seem intent on replicating their opportunistic stage hunting of 2013.

David poses some tough questions to Haimer Zubeldia (image: Sheree)

David poses some tough questions to Haimer Zubeldia (image: Sheree)

But the star of Friday’s pressers wasn’t a rider. It was a journalist, young Brit, David Fletcher who lives in Galicia, northern Spain, and runs a Spanish website with a couple of amigos. He asked the most searching questions and demonstrated his agility in a number of different languages. He’s the future right here and I’m looking forward to catching up with him at the Vuelta which starts in Galicia. Maybe I can persuade him to do a guest spot in English on VeloVoices? [We’d be happy to have him! – Ed]

If you speak Spanish, check out David’s site and follow on Twitter.

Header image: Trek-Segafredo Team Press Conference  ©GETTY/ Tim De Waele.


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