Inside CCC Team’s Tour de France Squad
Looking to snag stage wins
CCC Team is set to line up at the Tour de France with eight riders motivated to go for a stage win when racing gets underway this Saturday in Brussels.
Two-time individual stage winner Greg Van Avermaet, the last Belgian to wear the Maillot Jaune, will lead the team on home soil at the Grand Depart and will be joined by fellow countryman Serge Pauwels. Simon Geschke, who won a stage in 2015, Team Time Trial winners Patrick Bevin (2018) and Michael Schär (2015 and 2018), and three-time Vuelta a España stage winner Alessandro De Marchi will bring a wealth of experience to the team, whilst former United States time trial champion Joey Rosskopf and Polish rider Łukasz Wiśniowski are set to make their race debut.
CCC Team General Manager Jim Ochowicz said the 2019 Tour de France will mark an important milestone in the team’s history.
“The Tour de France is always an exciting time in the cycling season and this year’s edition will be special for the team, for our title sponsor CCC, and for Polish cycling. For the first time, the CCC brand will race on the world’s biggest stage and we will make our debut at the Tour de France with the CCC Team name, the first Polish WorldTour team in the history of the race. Dariusz Miłek, President of the CCC Group, has dreamed of this for a long time and we are proud to make it a reality on Saturday,” Ochowicz said.
“We are lining up at the Tour de France with a fresh approach and new objectives. This may be the team’s tenth Tour de France but it will be the first year in that time that we line up without a General Classification contender so, this is new terrain for us. Instead, we are bringing eight motivated riders who will look to race aggressively and work towards achieving our primary objective which is to win a stage. We have to and we will line up at every start line with the belief that we can win that stage. It’s not easy to win a stage at the Tour de France but we have riders who have won before, and the opportunity given to all eight riders to go for their own results gives them a level of freedom most have never had. We are excited to see what they can do.”
Sports Director Fabio Baldato believes the unpredictability of this year’s Tour de France can work in the team’s favor.
“Our Tour de France this year will be all about attacking, looking for good breakaways, and working as a team to win a stage. We don’t have a pure sprinter and we don’t have a pure climber, we have a team of opportunists which means we have to look at every stage and see how we can win it. I think the fact that the General Classification is so open this year will work in our favor as there is not one team with the responsibility of controlling the race, which should help us to achieve our goal and race as aggressively as possible,” Baldato explained.
“Of course, Greg Van Avermaet is the leader of our team, a title he deserves when you look at his palmarès and history at the race. There are quite a few stages that are suited to Greg and he will have the team’s full support on those days. Riders like Alessandro De Marchi, Simon Geschke, and Serge Pauwels are exactly the kind of riders who will be jumping in breakaways and have already proven they can win in these situations. Patrick Bevin has his sights set on the ITT but he showed fantastic form at Tour de Suisse so I think he is going to have a great Tour de France. We saw last year in the stage 13 breakaway that Michael Schär can make the most of an opportunity when given the chance so we can expect to see more of that. Joey Rosskopf and Łukasz Wiśniowski will make their debut so they are in for a special Tour de France and with the freedom to go for their own results.”
CCC TEAM at the TOUR DE FRANCE
PATRICK BEVIN (NZ)
Participations: 2017, 2018
Stage wins: 2018 Stage 3 TTT
“Going in without a General Classification leader is an exciting prospect and lends itself to a much more relaxed build-up to the Tour de France. I have come out of the Tour de Suisse with great form and I hope to parlay that into a result come July. I have two main goals. The first is the time trial. This has been my focus throughout the season and I have been constant in all the time trials I have taken part in. A time trial during the second week of a Grand Tour is a different prospect and I hope to be able to produce a top performance there and see where that puts me on the results sheet. My second goal is to be aggressive as the race progresses. I feel like I am climbing well enough to take some chances on the days where a break is likely to succeed. This is a different feeling to my last Tour de France experiences and this is the type of opportunity that really excites me as an athlete.”
ALESSANDRO DE MARCHI (ITA)
TdF Participations: 2013, 2014, 2017
“I’m really happy to be back at the Tour de France but I am even happier to be back at the race with the team we have; a strong team with teammates ready, like me, to look for any opportunities. I think this approach is the best for a stressful and demanding race like the Tour de France. This approach will give everyone a smile in the hard moments and motivation in the moments when we need to fight. Personally, I will really try to live the moment and each stage, as I did at the Critérium du Dauphiné when I almost made it to the line on a sprint stage. If you feel it, you must go and try. This will be my mantra!”
SIMON GESCHKE (GER)
TdF Participations: 2009, 2013, 2015-2018
Stage wins: 2015 stage 17
“I’m as excited as always for the Tour de France. It is a special feeling this year with a new team in a positive way. I’m sure we can make it a good one and I look forward to contributing with my experience and also the legs, of course. A lot can happen in the race so I prefer to take it day by day, that’s how I managed to win a stage in 2015. It can be a big advantage to not have the focus on the General Classification. I should be definitely a bit fresher after missing many races in spring. I wasn’t flying at the Tour de Suisse, but I made steady progress since my last injury. I did my best on and off the bike, since that time, to peak in July so I’m confident that I’ll be in good shape during the Tour de France.”
SERGE PAUWELS (BEL)
TdF Participations: 2010, 2015-2018
“I’m really happy to be lining up at the Tour de France. To have the Grand Depart in Belgium is pretty unique. I’ve raced through Belgium in the Tour before but to have the Grand Depart there will make it even more special, especially as it will be the first and last time it happens in my career. There will be a lot of friends and family on the side of the road to watch and support me, so I am really looking forward to the first weekend. My role this year will be similar to what I had in the last years as we will be looking for stage wins. It’s basically about grabbing the opportunities that come up. I think there are a lot of good stages for riders like me, starting with the La Planche des Belles Filles stage, and with guys like Alessandro De Marchi and Simon Geschke, we will have strength in numbers. I feel good and I’ve had the opportunity to fine tune my form after the Critérium du Dauphiné so I’m ready.”
JOEY ROSSKOPF (USA)
First time at TdF
“I’m going to the Tour de France! What more is there to say? As we all know, the Tour is in many ways the pinnacle of the sport, but it is also one which I was never sure I would reach. It appears this year I’ll get my chance! So I head to the start line with eagerness and even more with gratitude to our team for the confidence they have placed in me since the beginning of the season. When I look at the rest of our roster, I see a bunch of strong, determined, stage hunters and I hope to play that role as well. I think that between us we will constantly be ready to create and seize any opportunity we can for stage success. That freedom and aggression we will be allowed makes this an especially exciting group to be a part of. Aside from the results we hope to achieve, another highlight for me will be soaking in all the friendly faces and support of family and hometown friends who will be strewn along the roadside. Based on what I hear of their travel plans, it appears as though half of Decatur, GA is moving to France for the month of July. Let “La Grande Boucle” begin!”
MICHAEL SCHÄR (SUI)
TdF Stage wins: 2015 stage 9 TTT, 2018 Stage 3 TTT
“I am excited to start my ninth Tour de France. As I started in 2011 and we won the race with Cadel Evans, it was always special to go back to France in July. For many years my role was identical which meant that I had to ride the front on the flat stages for our General Classification contenders. This year is the first time that I have a different role and I am happy about it. I have much more freedom to take chances in breakaways. There are also a couple of stages that fit Greg Van Avermaet well and on those days, we will make everything possible to support him. There is no specific day that I pointed out for this Tour de France for me. I will take every day as an opportunity to show something. I feel ready and am happy with my form.”
GREG VAN AVERMAET (BEL)
Participations: 2009, 2014-2018
TdF Stage wins: 2015 stage 9 TTT, 2015 stage 13, 2016 stage 5, 2018 Stage 3 TTT
Days in yellow: 11
“It’s really special to have the Grand Depart in Belgium. To have the chance to race the biggest race of the year in front of family and friends definitely gives me extra motivation. Also, to line up as the most recent Belgian to wear the yellow jersey makes it even more exciting and something I am really proud of. I want to win a stage, that’s no secret. Without a General Classification leader, we all have the freedom to go for our own results and that’s really exciting. Not just for me, but for the whole team. I never expected to wear the yellow jersey for eight days last year and I think that is a good reminder of how you have to take every opportunity that comes your way during the race and be aggressive from start to finish.”
ŁUKASZ WIŚNIOWSKI (POL)
First time TdF
“This will be my second Grand Tour but my first Tour de France. I’m really excited. Ever since I started cycling, I dreamed of being part of a Tour de France team and finally, the dream is coming true. I’m really looking forward to the race especially as we are going with a strong team and without a General Classification rider, we will, hopefully, with good legs and good luck, be able to win a stage. There is not one stage that I am looking at but I hope to be in some breakaways and do a nice result. Since the beginning of the year, I have really enjoyed being part of the Polish CCC Team project and now, to go to the biggest race of the year with a Polish team is really special. With the start in Brussels, where people are crazy about cycling, the atmosphere will be really nice. I’m really happy and I can’t wait to join the riders and staff there and have a great three weeks.”