Tour de France 2017: full team-by-team guide

Introducing this years squads: the leaders, the heritage and the names to watch out for

Ag2r La Mondiale( France; UCI ranking 11)

Twenty years ago Ag2r were a little known sponsor of a small regional squad but nowadays they are part of the Tour de France scenery, and to mark two decades of commitment and steady progression theyd love to take simply one more upward step. They dont do corporate statements or anything remotely trendy but show them a mound or two and theyre off in search of glory. A squad that realises the fans come to be entertained and thats what they offer by being present in all the classifications, green jersey excepted. The clash of colourings would be horrendous so lets keep it authentic.

Founded 1992 Bicycles Factor Manager Laurent Biondi

Tours de France 23 Tour wins 0 Stage victories 16 Green jerseys 0 King of the Mountains 0 Days in amber 16

Name means An amalgamation of two different fiscal firms, AG2R and La Mondiale.

Tour heritage Second-place finishes for Jean-Christophe Praud in 2014 and Romain Bardet last year are the finest accomplishments so far of the oldest French team, competing in its 21 st consecutive Tour.

Team leader Romain Bardet( Fr ). Second last year after an epic Alpine raid hes been slowly building and maturing into a potential Grand tour winner. Will do something spectacular or go down trying.

Romain
Romain Bardet: a potential Grand tour winner. Photograph: Philippe Lopez/ AFP/ Getty Images

Astana Pro Team( Kazakhstan; UCI ranking 15)

Winners at the Dauphine thanks to Jakob Fuglsang, with Fabio Aru one year stronger this dynamic duo could be the dynamite that erupts the GC battle. Who plays Batman and who is Robin will be decided out in the field though Aru is the apple in squad director Vinokourovs eye. They might be dressed up in baby blue and have what looks like a Teletubbies sunshine stuck on them but dont forget this organisation have won the overall three times before. Seriously strong squad with no soft centre they could well be minted in Paris.

Founded 2007 Bicycles Argon 18 Manager Alexandr Vinokourov

Tours de France 16 Tour wins 2 Stage victories 9 Green jerseys 0 King of the Mountains 0 Days in yellow 32

Name entails Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan, and also a group of companies working in the car retail and real estate sectors.

Tour heritage Took over the team formerly known as Liberty Seguros in 2006 and immediately plunged into disagreement following Alexandre Vinokourovs positive medications test in 2007. Alberto Contador, in 2009, and Vincenzo Nibali in 2014 both won the Tour in their colours.

Team leader Fabio Aru( Ita ). Italys rising star lost his way for a while but hes back on the warpath again. Never afraid of anyone or their reputation if theres a GC fight hell be involved at some stage.

Fabio
Fabio Aru( in blue) is back on the warpath again. Photograph: Peter Dejong/ AP

Bahrain Merida( Bahrain; UCI ranking 12)

Without their big signing Vincenzo Nibali this new team starts its first Tour with no realistic podium ambitions. Jon Izaguirre will be looking for a solid top 10 and maybe sneak a stage win along the way but otherwise its animation and TV time spent in long violates that will be the orders each morning. They may have the money but it would be ambitious to expect many of Nibalis support riders to mix it with the big guys when the GC racing starts. Three weeks of non-alcoholic champagne awaits.

Founded 2016 Bicycles Merida Manager Brent Copeland

Tours de France 0 Tour wins 0 Stage victories 0 Green jerseys 0 King of the Mountains 0 Days in amber 0

Name entails Bahrain refers to the country, whose government funds the team. Merida, the co-title sponsor, make their bicycles.

Tour heritage None. They make up for that in meaningful sportswear, their Bahraini Red shirts with Sea Blue sleeves featuring circles that represent the dynamic motion towards victory.

Team leader Sonny Colbrelli( Ita ). Might well surprise in the more technical sprint finishes but unless its hectic, dangerous and he surfs another leadout develop perfectly to a good stance hell be watching how its done from the second-row seats.

Sonny
Sonny Colbrelli: could surprise in the technical sprint finishes. Photograph: Sebastien Nogier/ EPA

BMC Racing Team( United States; UCI ranking 2)

Finally BMC have got the formula right for their leader Richie Porte. No more sharing and no more caring for the little Australian: this has to be the year he delivers the murderer blows. Everyone has one goal and they all know the drill: look after Richie, watch what Sky and Movistar do and no sleep down the back. Here to win and if that entails putting even the Olympic champion Greg Van Avermaet on the front then so be it. Classy, structured, beautifully presented and a rostrum is the minimum expected.

Founded 2007 Bicycles BMC Manager Allan Peiper

Tours de France 7 Tour wins 1 Stage victories 4 Green jerseys 0 King of the Mountains 0 Days in amber 7

Name entails BMC is an acronym for Bicycle Manufacturing Company. Its a company that manufactures bicycles, based in Grenchen, Switzlerland.

Tour heritage Cadel Evans victory in 2011 stands as their greatest accomplishment, but there have also been two fifth places for Tejay van Garderen.

Team leader Richie Porte( Aus ). Following the 2017 script then itll take a serious assault to scupper Richie Portes ambitions to stand on the top step in Paris. Whoever wins will have to out climb and out time trial him. Good luck with that.

Richie
BMC have for the formula right for leader Richie Porte. Photograph: Philippe Lopez/ AFP/ Getty Images

Bora – Hansgrohe( Germany; UCI ranking 8)

Picture the rainbow jersey winning a Tour stage, add a Peter Sagan celebration and its a match built in heaven for sponsors, fans and a news-hungry media. Two-time best climber Rafa Majka likes a laugh too, so all in all those serious Germans at the kitchen mill must be wondering how go theyve go from dour to flowers in one season. With a core of riders capable of putting both starrings in the right place at the right time this squad quietly goes about its business until the price is right.

Founded 2010 Bicycles Specialized Manager Ralph Denk

Tours de France 2 Tour wins 0 Stage victories 0 Green jerseys 0 King of the Mountains 0 Days in amber 0

Name means Bora are a Bavarian manufacturer of extractor fans, while Hansgrohe is one of the worlds leave producers of shower heads, also based in Germany.

Tour heritage The team formerly known as NetApp-Endura and then Bora-Argon 18 were wildcards in 2014 and returned last year, but have since significantly strengthened.

Team leader Peter Sagan( Svk ). Who doesnt secretly wish they were as talented, likeable and successful as the prevail World Champion? The question is not: Is he going to win the Green jersey? but: Have the Tour organisers bothered bringing any other sizes?

Peter
Peter Sagan( left ): talented, likeable and successful. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/ AFP/ Getty Images

Cannondale Drapac( United States; UCI ranking 14)

If recent kind is anything to go by then this could be the year that argyle becomes trendy again. Its taken a long time but the American squad has rediscovered winning after amassing more than their fair share of bad luck, bad form and bad crashes. Talansky, Uran and Rolland ought to stimulate the first selection when the mountain skirmishes begin, regrettably its anyones guess what happens next. Bit of an unknown for Taylor Phinney also but at least theres that magnificent moustache.

Founded 2003 Bicycles Cannondale Manager Jonathan Vaughters

Tours de France 12 Tour wins 0 Stage victories 7 Green jerseys 0 King of the Mountains 0 Days in yellow 7

Name means Cannondale build bicycles in America, where Drapac invests in real estate or, as they set it, are a property monies management business that identifies value through unorthodox means.

Tour heritage They have never got a rider onto the pulpit, but they have come close, taking Christian Vande Velde and Bradley Wiggins to fourth place in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Team leader Andrew Talansky( USA ). Good in America, good in one-week races now its beginning to feel like the Grand Tour podium is no longer in reach. Usually falls off at some phase so he needs to bounce better and back.

Andrew
Andrew Talansky( left) needs to bounce better. Photograph: Philippe Lopez/ AFP/ Getty Images

Cofidis, Solutions Credits( France; UCI ranking: wildcard)

Operating at Pro Continental level, Cofidis will be hard pressed to have a lasting influence on any category but it wont be for the want of trying. Theyll put a rider in every breach, attack at every lamppost and then when that tactic inevitably fails in the first week the guys not on escape responsibility will be looking after their pocket rocket Nacer Bouhanni. And if they do a good job of placing him in the final action then he merely needs to keep his cool. Yeah right.

Founded 1997 Bicycles Orbea Manager Yvon Sanquer

Tours de France 20 Tour wins 0 Stage victories 10 Green jerseys 0 King of the Mountains 1 Days in yellow 4

Name entails Cofidis is a French company offering consumer loans, or credit answers, if you will.

Tour heritage Ever-present in the Tour since 1997, their 10 stage wins have come in eight different years. Their most recent was in 2008, since when their superstar has waned.

Team leader Nacer Bouhanni( Fra ). You know how they say cyclists cant fighting, well dont go gushing that to Bouhanni or hell have you. If any of the anger management training ever sinks in then that will be the day the air get punched in victory.

Nacer
Nacer Bouhanni: needs to keep his cool. Photograph: SWpix.com/ Rex/ Shutterstock

Direct Energie( France; UCI ranking: wildcard)

Bring on the youngsters because its nearly over for the names weve heard of. However old these individuals are, Thomas Voeckler and Sylvain Chavanel will show what entertaining the home fans is all about. No they wont be in every breaking, the others can do that, but the ones they infiltrate will know about it. Masters of deception and cunning dont arrive any wiser and give either of them an inch and that will be that.

Founded 2000 Bicycles BH Manager Jean-Ren Bernaudeau

Tours de France 17 Tour wins 0 Stage victories 9 Green jerseys 0 King of the Mountains 2 Days in yellow 23

Name means Direct Energie you can translate it yourself will provide all your gas and electricity requires. So long as youre in France.

Tour heritage Their history is intertwined with Voecklers he has spent 17 years in the team and is responsible for 20 of their 23 days in yellow, split 10 apiece between 2004 and 2011, when he finished fourth.

Team leader Thomas Voeckler( Fra ). Another swansong for the lord of many faces. Hed do everything possible for another day in Yellow but being a realist, a stage will be a fitting goodbye.

Thomas
Thomas Voeckler: master of deception and cunning. Photograph: Lionel Bonaventure/ AFP/ Getty Images

FDJ( France; UCI ranking 16)

Marc Madiots team is one of the few GC squads that still contains a serious sprinter. Arnaud Demare might not be the first name the springtimes to mind but at the end of a long hard stage he can be a nasty surprise for the other fast men. Thibault Pinot on the other hand is a name every French housewife recognises. Emotions will run high if the darling of France is in the front though it remains to be seen how hes recovered after the Giro.

Founded 1997 Bicycles Lapierre Manager Marc Madiot

Tours de France 20 Tour wins 0 Stage victories 10 Green jerseys 1 King of the Mountains 0 Days in yellow 3

Name entails The team, briefly known as FDJeux for a couple of years in the noughties, is sponsored by Franaise des Jeux, which operates the French national lottery.

Tour heritage Frances favourite team took a stage win in their first year two decades back and have picked them up regularly thereafter, with Pinot sending their ambitions spiralling with a third-place finish in 2014.

Team leader Thibault Pinot( Fra ). Hasnt quite got the form balance between climbing and hour trialling right but there will be tears when he does. A whole nations expectations weigh heavily at times but “hes still” a good gamble for the podium.

Thibault
Thibault Pinot: a nations expectations weigh heavily. Photograph: Alain Grosclaude/ AFP/ Getty Images

Fortuneo-Vital Concept( France; UCI ranking: wildcard)

A third Tour start for the lowest ranked team of the race and up until now they performed as expected. They try. But dont laugh because they do what they can with what they have and thats good enough to build the infringe some days, challenge for a few climbs and generally not disgrace themselves entirely. Its a cruel, hard sport and get a kicking most days for not a lot isnt pleasant. All they want is some recognition and lots of airtime.

Founded 2005 Bicycles Look Manager Emmanuel Hubert

Tours de France Three Tour wins 0 Stage victories 0 Green jerseys 0 King of the Mountains 0 Days in yellow 0

Name means Fortuneo is an online bank, while Vital Concept not to be confused with the London-based web design company sell agricultural and equestrian equipment. Both, like the cycling squad, are based in Brittany. Their new name, Fortuneo-Oscaro, has not been officially corroborated Oscaro sells car parts online.

Tour heritage An originally amateur team turned professional in 2005 and attained its Tour debut in 2014. Their most interesting moment so far went when Eduardo Seplveda was disqualified in 2015 for hitching a lift in another squads car.

Team leader Maxime Bouet( Fra ). Dedicated nerds will know he used to be at World Tour level with Ag2r then Quick-Step , now hes a team leader. Solid, dependable and this will be his sixth TdF. He didnt finish his last one.

Maxime
Maxime Bouet: solid and dependable. Photograph: Tim de Waele/ Corbis via Getty Images

Lotto Soudal( Belgium; UCI ranking 17)

Cycling is tribal in Belgium and if you prefer red to blue then the choice is built easier as both World Tour teams are havens of sprinting prowess. Unlike their big challengers over at Quickstep they dont win as often, but when they do its usually Grand Tour stages and its usually thanks to the thunderous thighs of Andre Greipel. Once the fast stuff is over then they have plenty of guys undaunted by four hours into a headwind, mountain pass included. Nest ce pas Thomas De Gendt?

Founded 1985 Bicycles Ridley Manager Marc Sargeant

Tours de France 30 Tour wins 0 Stage victories 33 Green jerseys 3 King of the Mountains 0 Days in yellow 8P TAGEND

Name entails A Belgian-based team, the Lotto refers to Belgiums lottery, while Soudal is a global leader in sealants, foams and adhesives.

Tour heritage Cadel Evans five-day stint in 2008 is the only time a Lotto Soudal rider has spent more than 24 hours in yellow, but 33 wins over 30 years represents impressive history.

Team leader Andre Greipel( Ger ). Winning on the Champs Elysees in 2016 saved a disappointing Tour by his standards, but he wont be wanting to wait that long into the race to open his account this year. Liege will be the first rendezvous for this member of the sprinting royalty.

Andre
Andre Greipel( centre ): sprinting royalty. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/ Getty Images

Team Lotto NL – Jumbo( Netherlands; UCI ranking 10)

A solid mix of experience and youth make up a squad that quite often springs a astonish. Primoz Roglic has had an impressive record in the time trials this season, George Bennett won the Tour of California and Dylan Groenewegen is coming into form as two sprint victories at the Tour of Norway indicate. With some guidance from guys like Robert Gesink this is a squad which ought to be present on every terrain.

Founded 1984 Bicycles Bianchi Manager Richard Plugge

Tours de France 33 Tour wins 0 Stage victories 48 Green jerseys 2 King of the Mountains 2 Days in yellow 10

Name means The third lottery-funded team, this one is powered by the Dutch version the letters N and L were added to the name to avoid confusion and by the supermarket chain Jumbo.

Tour heritage Enjoyed greatest success under the sponsorship of Rabobank, between 1996 and 2012, a period since tainted by doping-related revelations.

Team leader Primoz Roglic( Slv ): Used to be a ski jumper and was World junior champ no less. 183 metres was his best distance, but nowadays he likes a longer time flying along on his own. Watch this space.

Primoz
Primoz Roglic: used to be a ski jumper. Photograph: Luca Zennaro/ EPA

Team Sky( Great Britain; UCI ranking 4)

The defending champions must be hoping the change from black to white jerseys also cleans up their fortunes after a difficult period on and off the motorcycles. So far its been a poor year relatively speaking for the GC riders too and though Michal Kwiatkowski has been stellar everyone seems to be hitting the deck more than Dave Brailsfords targets. Froome, Landa and Thomas have some hard days ahead but Sky still start as the team to beat.

Founded 2009 Bicycles Pinarello Manager Dave Brailsford

Tours de France 7 Tour wins 4 Stage victories 14 Green jerseys 0 King of the Mountains 1 Days in yellow 58

Name entails Sky refers to a British satellite television subscription service, and to the particular kind of blue thinking that has fuelled their success.

Tour heritage The long blue lines on this years kit each represent a Tour win, and there are a few of them: Sky have won four of the last five Tours.

Team leader: Chris Froome( GB ). No wins yet but this is the only race that matters. Will have to be on his best form and, even then, if the others gang up on Sky like they did to BMC at the Dauphine therell be trouble at mill.

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