June 26, 2015 – World champion Michal Kwiatkowski will take centre stage in his Etixx-Quick Step team’s tilt at Tour de France glory next month. While Kwiatkowski and Etixx have no serious designs on overall victory, the well-funded Belgians will be expecting to bask in a healthy share of the limelight.
Kwiatkowski disappointed last year in finishing 28th overall — compared to 11th the year before — and came up well short on a couple of daring attempts to win stages. But Etixx, who announced their Tour squad on Friday, are expecting more from him now that he’s wearing the rainbow jersey, won in Spain last September.
“We want to be present in the stages and try to hold the yellow jersey for a few days,” said Etixx sports director Rolf Aldag. Their best chance of taking the yellow jersey probably lies with Germany’s Tony Martin, who won his fourth German time trial title on Friday.
Martin, the three-time world time trial champion, will be favourite to win the opening stage on July 4, a 13.8km race against the clock. Thereafter, Briton Mark Cavendish will have a few flat stages in the opening week to try to add to his 25 Tour stage wins. Kwiatkowski is likely to challenge on hilly stages over rolling terrain, of which there are a few in the first two weeks.
Rigoberto Uran is in the team and having twice finished second at the Giro d’Italia, in 2013 and 2014, should be an overall contender. But he was a disappointing 14th at last month’s Giro and his best finish at the Tour was 23rd in 2011.
Mark Cavendish (GBR)
Michal Golas (POL)
Michal Kwiatkowski (POL)
Tony Martin (GER)
Mark Renshaw (AUS)
Zdenek Stybar (CZE)
Matteo Trentin (ITA)
Rigoberto Uran (COL)
Julien Vermote (BEL)