As began last week, we’re living in a fanciful world where money, contracts and sponsors are nothing to be troubled with. We’re building the best Tour de France team possible, kolo t.c.-EpicEinstein.
The goals, as mentioned in the first post, are simple and ambitious. Win everything. We are gunning for stages, the GC, the green jersey, and anything else we can sweep up along the road to Paris. Our fictitious (for now) bike squad, kolo t.c.-EpicEinstein, has the funds to sign all the riders we want. Like Flavio Becca of two years ago, I’m taking the cream of the crop from the best teams of RadioShack-Nissan, Team Sky and others and making sure I keep the Schlecks and Johan Bruyneel as far away from my team bus as possible.
Last week, we picked up a trio of domestiques charged with the task of guarding our GC rider and sprint train for the whole three weeks of the Tour. It’s a daunting task for a squad taking aim at so many objectives, but Jens Voight, Ian Stannard and Ted King should be up to the challenge. Ted King was snubbed for the Tour by LiquiGas-Cannondale, so he’ll be excited to join our team. Jens Voight has to have an extraordinarily large headache dealing with the RadioShack-Nissan soap opera (Shut up, head!) with Jakob Fugalsang, Jan Bakelandts and the Schlecks rumored to be leaving after this season, and Chris Horner getting named to the Tour team in spite of being kept off the long list. Maybe the brightest win of the national championships weekend was Our Boy Ian Stannard taking the British Road Race on Sunday. Stannard has been put on the front and in the grinder all season for Team Sky and deserves to throw on the red, blue and white jersey as champion of Britain.
With our domestiques in place, it’s time to pick our sprinter and lead out men. The stupid but easy thing to do here is pick the big names of the 2012 season, Peter Sagan, Mark Cavendish and Tom Boonen. There’s no way that would work, in spite of how ridiculously powerful all three of those sprinters. Boonen ruled the Classics season, and just won another Belgian national championship this June. Sagan and Cavendish are going to provide the tightest sprint battle in recent memory, but neither would help the other on one team. With that in mind, here’s the sprint selections for kolo t.c.-EpicEinstein.
Tom Boonen, OmegaPharma-QuickStep. The most dominant Classics season from March through May than we’ve seen in three years, and he’s still on top form in late June. He’s not the top end sprinter he was back in the early 2000s, when he battled in the glory years of Thor Hushovd, Erik Zabel and Robbie McEwen, but he’s still got enough kick to be dangerous on any stage. In our team, he’s going to be the long-run leadout man with the green light to jump into breaks in the medium stages. He’s also extremely experienced and will serve as a more than capable mentor for our next selection. With much of the first week taking place in Belgium, he’ll be on home roads with the opportunity to try and steal a yellow jersey on the road with a solid Prologue in Liege.
Edvald Boasson Hagen, Team Sky. He’s been called the most talented rider young ride since he was 19 years old and Eddy Boss has never disappointed. He’s won races from Qatar, Oman, and the US, including stages at the Tour de France in 2011. Edvald is capable of winning over most terrain and can be counted on to win from the break and the bunch. He’s won six races in 2012, including the Norwegian national championships June 24. He’ll team with Boonen on the leadouts and will ride as another protector for our GC men in the mountains. While not a climber, he’s capable of working hard on the ascents to set-up the favorites as he did for Richie Porte this spring at Volta ao Algarve.
Andre Greipel, Lotto-Belisol. Mark Cavendish is the fastest rider in the world….When he has a leadout. While the Manx Missile has shown he’s capable of winning out of a messy finish, it’s definitely not his forte. Our squad will only have two, maybe three riders dedicated to leadout duties on the flat stages, and he’ll get almost no sheparding at all once into the mountains. Cavendish requires Bernie Eisel to ride around with, and there’s no room for baby-sitting in our team. It’s fitting that Griepel and Cavendish were the final two candidates for this cushy spot. Greipel lived in the shadows during his HTC days as the heralded but ignored pilot fish. He moved from HTC for OmegaPharma-Lotto and chose the Lotto side when that team split. Now he’s the dark horse behind the favorites of Cavendish and Sagan, but he’s a constant threat for wins, especially armed with our Dream Team.
Check back later in the week for the exciting conclusion to the Dream Team series, as kolo t.c.-EpicEinstein presents the GC man and his two trusty companions. One hint: We will NOT be selecting either Schleck. Promise.
The Tour starts June 30 in Liege.