General manager Jean-François Bourlart and sports directors Hilaire Van der Schueren and Steven De Neef thus made a decision. Three Belgians will be present next Saturday, including a Tour debutant: Timothy Dupont. Besides the five already known names (Thomas Degand, Guillaume Martin, Marco Minnaard, Yoann Offredo and Andrea Pasqualon) also Dion Smith andGuillaume Van Keirsbulck make their appearance.
"The selection of the last three riders was not easy. In the eight flat stages we want to launch a pure sprinter. Timothy Dupont has the ideal sprinter profile. We hope he can compete with the fast men. Last year we won the day standings of the teams in three stages. For this Timo will play an important role in the first week."
"Dion Smith has a rising shape, as his second place in Paris-Chauny last weekend demonstrates. He already has a Tour in the legs, and Dion performed well in the past Tour of Belgium and Dauphiné. Our New Zealander is an all-rounder: he has his place in the first week and can assist Guillaume Martin in the rest of Le Tour."
"In the opening week, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck will again play an important role in the collective around Guillaume Martin. He will assist Martin till Roubaix, and Van Keirsbulck's experience in echelons and on cobblestones is a surplus for our French climber. We also hope to send him once or twice in the break, like last year."
"In general Wanty-Groupe Gobert wants to be offensive and combative for three weeks, like last year. The team has prepared Le Tour carefully and appears in its best shape at the start. Our priority is to protect Guillaume Martin and to lead him to the Alps in the best possible position. After that it is up to Guillaume on his favorite terrain, the high mountains. Guillaume is ambitious, just like us, and so we will do everything we can to do better than his 23rd GC place on his debut."
Hilaire Van der Schueren:
"The choice was very difficult, and I hope we have not made a mistake. We had to find a balance in our selection, taking into account the mountain stages, but also the flat stages in the first week and the team time trial."
"I believe Timothy Dupont is capable of sprinting top 5. I expect Van Keirsbulck to deliver strong work at the service of Martin, both in the team time trial and on the cobblestones. The shape of Smith is on the rise. He is able to show beautiful things."
- Thomas Degand
- Timothy Dupont
- Guillaume Martin
- Marco Minnaard
- Yoann Offredo
- Andrea Pasqualon
- Dion Smith
- Guillaume Van Keirsbulck