Ralph Denk: “We hope to bring home a stage win”
Jan Barta, Sam Bennett, Emanuel Buchmann, Zakkari Dempster, Bartosz Huzarski, Jose Mendes, Dominik Nerz, Andreas Schillinger and Paul Voss the nine cyclists selected by Bora-Argon to ride the 102nd Tour de France. The Pro Continental teams is returning to the biggest stage race in the world one year after making its debut and being among the protagonist in the general classification, where it scored a very impressive top 10.
This time, the German Pro Continental team comes with a line-up spearheaded by Sam Bennett – one of the most talented sprinters of the new generation and winner of three races this season – and Dominik Nerz, the 25-year-old who showed his GC potential by finishing twice in the top 20 at the Vuelta a España. The two of them are expected to take advantage of the many opportunity the Tour de France will provide in the next three weeks and bring Bora-Argon’s biggest victory of the year, as underlined by Ralph Denk, in the following interview he gave to Cafe Roubaix.
– Mister Denk, the team is coming back to the Tour de France after making its debut last season. How important is to have got a wild card for the second year in a row?
For us it is very important since we have a new sponsor. To present the biggest platform in cycling to a new sponsor is the best thing that can happen to a team and our project. We all know that the bar we set last year is very high. Already then we exceeded all expectations. But the riders are fit and motivated, so we hope that we are able to convince and surprise this year again.
– How was the process of selecting the riders who eventually made the cut?
Our management team tried to find a mix of cyclists to support Sam Bennett in the sprints, as well as Dominik Nerz, who is focussing on the GC. The clock was set to zero in January and every rider had enough races and chances to prove himself and qualify for the Tour squad.
– Is it safe to say that Sam Bennett is the leader of Bora-Argon for the Tour de France?
Well, actually we are going with two leaders into the race. Meaning, Sam Bennett takes the lead position in the sprint stages, while Dominik Nerz will be our leader regarding GC. I hope Sam will get his chances in the sprint stages to fight for a podium position.
– And how about the other cyclists?
Mainly, we hope that we arrive to Paris with as many riders as possible. If we are lucky enough to also bring home a stage win, our target would be reached. Basically, we would have all expectations fulfilled.
– What does it mean to have the national champion of Germany in the race? How did you receive the news of Emanuel Buchmann winning the race?
I received the news live through radiotour, as I was in the race car myself. It is a great story for German cycling and of course for our team. To go to the Tour de France with the German Champion in your team is really great. People are much more aware of us and truth is this scenario simply fits to a German team.