ProContinental battlers Wanty-Group Gobert has announced its Tour de France line-up for 2018 with New Zealander Dion Smith again in the mix.
Cycling Central

27 Jun 2018 - 9:22 AM  UPDATED 27 Jun 2018 - 9:23 AM

A Tour selection for the second time, the Belgian based outfit says it will make its presence felt in all areas of the 2018 race not just as breakaway fodder hoping for a bit of TV time for the sponsors.

Guillaume Martin, who finished 23rd overall in 2017, will again be the focus of the team's general classification ambitions.

"In general Wanty-Groupe Gobert wants to be offensive and combative for three weeks, like last year," said team boss Jean-François Bourlart. "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 favourite 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."

Also in the squad is a single Tour debutant Timothy Dupont - a contrast to 2017 when all its riders were first-timers. Thomas Degand, Marco Minnaard, Yoann Offredo, Andrea Pasqualon, Guillaume Van Keirsbulck and New Zealander Dion Smith round out the squad.

"Dion Smith has a rising shape, as his second place in Paris-Chauny last weekend demonstrates," Bourlart said. "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"

Sprint duties will be taken up by Dupont who the team thinks can be competitive with the best of the fast men on Tour.

"Timothy Dupont has the ideal sprinter profile," Bourlart said. "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."

SBS will broadcast the Tour de France live in HD from 7-29 July.