Cape Town - Team Dimension Data has announced its eight riders for the 106th edition of the Tour de France which gets underway in Brussels on Saturday, July 6.
It’s a squad that carries a huge amount of experience and will look to challenge by way of aggressive racing.
British cyclist Mark Cavendish will miss the Tour de France for the first time since 2007 after being left out of this year's team.
The 34-year-old sprinter, who has won 30 stages on the Tour de France, has struggled for form since returning to action this year after a second bout of the debilitating Epstein Barr virus.
He has only made the podium once in 2019 - third place in the third stage of the Tour of Turkey in April - and could only finish 22nd in the British National Championships road race on Sunday.
Cavendish is just four stage wins shy of Eddy Merckx's record of 34.
Among a host of fast men in the line-up Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen is one of a handful who has represented the team at every one of Dimension Data's appearances at the race since 2015. Boasson Hagen has won three stages of the Tour and comes into the race in good form with three wins under his belt this year, looking to again peak on the biggest stage.
There’s a Tour de France debut for sprinter Giacomo Nizzolo who is full of confidence having won the final stage at the recent Tour of Slovenia. The Italian, who has raced seven Giro d'Italia’s, brings a huge amount of experience to the line-up.
South Africa’s Reinardt Janse van Rensburg will be eyeing a series of stages for the fast men who are keen on tackling the hills as he competes in the race for a fifth time. He made his debut in 2015 and has seven top-10 finishes to his name this season.
Stephen Cummings will be looking at repeating his heroics on Mandela Day in 2015 as this year’s parcours is well suited to his style of racing. The former British champion has won two stages and will be looking for more in his sixth appearance at the race.
There are two very exciting “new caps” in Roman Kreuziger and Michael Valgren. The former has four top-10 finishes at Le Grande Boucle and will relish the challenge that this year's route poses.
While for Valgren, one of the most exciting riders in the world in recent years, he’ll be looking forward to making his debut for the team, targeting a podium spot on a number of stages and going one better than his fourth place on Stage 15 in 2018.
Lars Bak joins countryman Valgren in a crucial support role in the team. This will be his eighth time taking on Le Grande Boucle and his versatility over varied terrain will make him a key asset to the team throughout the race.
Concluding the selection is Ben King who joined the team in 2017 and rides the Tour de France for a second time having first ridden it in 2014. Last year was in some ways a breakout year for the American, as he impressed with two stage victories at the Vuelta a Espana.
In an exciting innovation for the team in 2019, each of the selected riders has been assigned a unique Tour de France cap, chronologically referencing the number for which they have been “capped” for the team at the race since 2015.
These are revealed for the first time in the team announcement video which was filmed on location in Khayelitsha, Cape Town at the Velokhaya Life Cycle Academy by young members who dream of competing in the future on the biggest stage.
The team visited Velokhaya on their annual training camp in November last year and it proved to be a source of great inspiration to the riders and staff who were present.
In the last five editions of the Tour de France, 18 riders have represented the team and so this year sees a number of new riders being “capped”.
Edvald Boasson Hagen, Stephen Cummings and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg, are our only riders from our Tour de France debut in 2015 and so are assigned as numbers one, two and five respectively. While Valgren, Kreuziger, Nizzolo, Bak and King are all new additions.
Doug Ryder - Team Principal
“Really excited to announce this great group of riders who we feel will be the best suited to meet the team’s objectives we have set out for this year's Tour de France. It’s a tough course but one that we’d like to be competitive in every stage, while at the same time continuing with our goal of changing lives through bicycles.”
“I finally got the call that I’ve been waiting for! I have been selected for the Tour de France with Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka. For many Americans the Tour is the only race that they know so it’s a huge deal. I can finally tell everyone who asks every year, “Yes, I’ll be there”. It’s a massive honour but also a huge responsibility, there’s really nothing like it.”
“I’m super excited to be part of the Team Dimension Data Tour de France team. We are aiming for some wins and I can’t wait to go there and help a teammate get a stage win or perhaps even myself - that would be quite cool. So, I’ll see that I’ll be having another holiday in France - three weeks! It’s going to be perfect.
“I’m very excited to be at the Grand Depart for the very first time. So at the moment I’m really looking forward to that opportunity and to enjoy the experience as it will be without a doubt one of my career highlights.
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg
“I’m really looking forward to starting another Tour de France, it will be my fifth Tour this year. I think that we’ve got a good team to target for stage wins and there are some good stages that suit me. So I’m really looking forward to this year’s tour again, three weeks of racing in the heat so I’m just completing my final preparations for that at the moment.”
“I was pleasantly surprised about the Tour selection, I wasn’t expecting that. I’m very grateful to the team again for the opportunity to go to the Tour and I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think it’s a pretty open Tour, there are a lot of chances to be aggressive and I think it suits the team that we have very well and I hope that we can have a great July and every one can be proud of us.”
Dimension Data team for Tour de France:
Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR), Lars Bak (DEN), Steve Cummings (GBR), Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA), Ben King (USA), Roman Kreuziger (CZE), Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA), Michael Valgren (DEN)