Trek Factory Racing is one of the teams to watch at this year’s Tour de France, as the squad led by Alain Gallopin and Kim Andersen is coming with a strong line-up, thanks to which it can fight on both fronts, stage wins and general classification. The US-based team has two captains for the biggest race in the world, Fabian Cancellara – who holds the record for the most days in the yellow jersey without winning the race (28) – and Bauke Mollema, who hopes to leave his mark on the overall standings in an event he previously finished twice in the top ten.
Joining them will be Julian Arredondo (best climber of the 2014 Giro d’Italia), two-time Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder, Laurent Didier, Markel Irizar, Bob Jungels, Gregory Rast and Haimar Zubeldia (8th at the previous edition), making up for a strong squad, which can show itself on almost any terrain.
Just days before the start of the 102nd running – which will take place in the Dutch city of Utrecht – I’ve contacted Mister Alain Gallopin, one of Trek’s sports directors for the Tour de France, and he agreed to talk for Cafe Roubaix about the team’s goals and expectations for this event, where the team comes with high expectations.
– Mister Gallopin, how would you rate Trek’s season so far?
The start was really good, but then, after the crash of Fabian Cancellara in E3 Harelbeke and the crash of Bauke Mollema in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco, things didn’t go as we have planned in the cobbled Classics and the Ardennes Classics, respectively. Nevertheless, the spirit is good in the team and we await the start of the Tour de France with a big level of confidence.
– For this reason is the race a chance to turn the tables around?
Exactly. Our first focus is to place Bauke Mollema into the top five and then, with Fabian Cancellara, to win a stage in the first part of the race and take the yellow jersey.
– How do you see the team’s line-up for the Tour de France?
We have found a perfect mix between the climbers and the Classics riders. Looking at the parcours of the race in the first half, it was important to have some strong Classics guys to protect our GC leader and also to help Fabian Cancellara get a victory. I don’t know if Fabian will have a free role on the fourth stage or will stay with Bauke, this is yet to be decided by Kim Andersen and I, but what I can say is that it would be very important for us if he could win the cobbled stage and take the yellow jersey.
– You said that the team’s goal is to have Bauke Mollema in the top five in Paris. What are his chances of doing so?
He didn’t have a good Criterium du Dauphiné, but if you remember, last year he was very strong in the Tour de Suisse, but afterwards was tired in the last week of the Tour de France. Also, in Dauphiné he had that back problem and our plan was to have him hit top form for July, and not for the Dauphiné.
– Making his debut in the Tour de France will be Julian Arredondo. Can he go at some point for the polka dot jersey?
It remains to be seen, as we provides us with many options, but the main goal will be to try and win a stage at the Tour, especially in the second half of the race, as there are a lot of opportunities for a breakaway to succeed. He is in good shape and I’m sure will spot him on the climbs.
– Also Bob Jungels will race the Tour de France for the first time. What can we expect from him?
He can have the same focus as Fabian, and that is to try and take the jersey at some point thanks to a break. Bob is a complete rider, good on the cobbles and also on the climbs, and I’m sure he’ll help the team. Last year he didn’t finish the Vuelta, but I’m confident we’ll see him at the front as he will gain a lot of experience here.
– You’ve been to many editions of the Tour de France as a sports director. What do you think of this year’s course?
My opinion is that it’s a very interesting, it’s certainly one for the climbers, but they have to avoid all the problems that can arise in the first ten days. A complete cyclist will win, not a climber, I’m sure of that. The winner will have to show himself not only on the climbs, but also on the cobbles and in the windy stages.
– And would you say that the first half of the race is more important than the second one?
Anything is important in the Tour de France, because every little detail counts and you can lose the race anywhere. It’s a very complicated affair. But, besides these Classic-type stages, I’d say that also the summit finish of Pierre-Saint-Martin will be very interesting, as it will be provide the first real fight between the overall classification riders.