By Gregor Brown
HTC-Highroad will start the Tour de France next Saturday in Vendée with two distinct leaders, Mark Cavendish for the sprints and Tony Martin for the overall. The American team announced them along with its six other Tour riders today.
HTC-Highroad's team: Mark Cavendish, Matt Goss, Mark Renshaw, Bernhard Eisel, Tony Martin, Peter Velits, Tejay Van Garderen, Lars Bak and Danny Pate.
"You access the most powerful combination, that's not just sprint lead-outs, it's trying to achieve multiple objectives. Maybe do a little bit more in the mountains, look for good results in some of the uphill sprints," the team's general manager, Bob Stapleton told Cycling Weekly.
"A clear goal is winning multiple stages. Cavendish will probably want to do that personally, even if he's cautious [to say he's happy with just one]."
Cavendish will mostly rely upon Goss, Renshaw and Eisel for the final kilometres of the sprint finishes in this year's race. The other four men will also help him early into the stages, but their responsibilities will also be to protect Germany's Martin.
Martin won two stage races this year, the Tour of Algarve and Paris Nice, and finished second in another, the Tour of Romandie. He finished 37th overall behind Bradley Wiggins (Sky) at the Critérium du Dauphiné, where he beat Wiggins by 11 seconds in the Grenoble time trial. The French stage race is an important tune up event for the Tour de France, especially given the race used the same time trial that features on the Tour's penultimate day.
"He was very good in Paris-Nice. We asked him to prove he could win a tough stage race, which he showed could. Then, he also showed he can do well on specific days, like [beating Wiggins] in the Dauphiné time trial."
Cavendish raced the Tour de France the last four years and won 15 stages. Last year, he won five. Stapleton's plan is for more of the same this year.
That's what we do best, show up and win stages," Stapleton continued. "Come in ready every day, if we do that 21 days in the Tour, we are going to win something."
The first chance for a sprint finish is the opening day to Les Herbiers. If Cavendish wins, he could carry the race leader's yellow jersey for two days. The Tour features a team time trial on day two, an even that HTC-Highroad won at the Giro d'Italia last month.
Stapleton also hopes for a stage win from Milan-San Remo winner, Australia's Goss. He said that Goss is suited for the multiple stages with uphill finishes, where only around 30 riders arrive to the line.
He leaves his home and family in California this coming week to travel to France. The race starts with the 191.5-kilometre road stage on Saturday, July 2.
Tour de France 2011: Cycling Weekly's coverage index
Mark Cavendish: Rider Profile
Tony Martin: Rider Profile