Dutch cycling team Argos-Shimano announced a long list for the Tour de France, the pinnacle of the cycling race season, which begins on June 30.
Here are the 14 riders competing to earn the right to represent the professional continental team in July:
Koen de Kort
Bert De Backer
Team Argos-Shimano is expected to announce the official team on June 19.
Expect Kittel to battle it out with the ProTour teams on the flat stages, while Gretsch will be called upon for individual time trials.
I’m surprised John Degenkolb wasn’t included on the list, but the German rider will now focus on competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics. The 22-year-old will also be able to keep his legs fresh for the Vuelta a España and season-ending world championship once the Olympics conclude.
“John has had a busy spring, riding almost all the spring classics and many stage races,” said Team Manager Iwan Spekenbrink in a press statement. “At this point the Tour de France is too much for him. John is a talented rider, but still just 22. The Tour de France comes a year too early for him."
Without a true general classification (GC) contender, expect the continental squad to liven the race up in breakaways and attacks. One stage win would be a major success for the team, so expect them to be aggressive while looking for opportunities to get their sponsors some TV time.