Team leader Vincenzo Nibali is backing up from a second-placed finish at the Giro d'Italia and may struggle to reproduce his top level at the Tour de France. Bahrain-Merida's squad selection reflects this, with a balanced squad named in support of a wide variety of objectives in the French Grand Tour.
“We have worked really hard," said General Manager Brent Copeland, "on getting the best possible team to this years Tour de France. The sport directors and trainers as well as all the teams staff have done a fantastic job both at the races and behind the scenes to make sure the team is at its best for this important appointment of the season especially considering the difficult start to the season we had with many injuries.
"Thanks to this hard work we are convinced on having a great Tour de France. when you go to any race with a rider as talented as Vincenzo Nibali you know its going to be an exciting one and this is what we looking forward to. The past month's optimistic results with Dylan Teuns and Rohan Dennis have shown that we moving in the right direction to make for some great racing.”
Nibali will be the leader, but with his form up in the air Bahrain-Merida have opted to included good sprinters in Sonny Colbrelli and Ivan Garcia Cortina, as well as riders who could snag stage wins in Rohan Dennis, Matej Mohoric and Dylan Teuns.
“It’s a complete team," said sports director Gorazd Stangelj, "which will be competitive in any kind of stage. Vincenzo will be able to aim for the GC, while Dylan and Matej Mohoric will be the day strikers.
"To them, add two sprinters like Sonny Colbrelli and the young Ivan Garcia Cortina, and Dennis for the time trials. Two solid riders like Damiano Caruso and Jan Tratnik complete a well balanced team “.
“I will listen to my feelings," said Vincenzo Nibali. "In the first week of the race and after the first uphill finish at La Planche des Belles Filles I will see where I am. After Giro d’Italia I recovered the fatigue and the last two weeks I did a training camp in the Alps with my teammate Damiano.
"As usual, the TDF’s route is very demanding and there are several ascents beyond the 2000 meters of altitude that will make more selection. Difficult to say who is the favorite, certainly the riders who can win are different and I am sure it will be a tough battle “.
After his second place overall at the Tour de Suisse, the ITT world champion Rohan Dennis will start from Brussels with some ambitions.
“I have been working well in the last weeks and the podium in Switzerland confirmed this," said Dennis. "My goal for the Tour is to do well in some stages, like for example the Pau ITT, and help my teammates win as much as possible”.
The 27-year-old Belgian Dylan Teuns will be at the start for the first time in his career:“I’m really happy to start my first Tour de France after having a really good and successful Dauphiné. I’m really confident on my shape and I will look for some nice opportunities.”
Bahrain-Merida squad: Vincenzo Nibali, Damiano Caruso, Matej Mohoric, Ivan Garcia Cortina, Sonny Colbrelli, Dylan Teuns, Rohan Dennis and Jan Tratnik.