The conventional wisdom of racing tells us it will be hard to top the 2017 Tour de France. Second place, with a dark horse coming in to the biggest race on the calendar. It was a result few outside the team could see coming, and certainly one of the team’s proudest moments.
The Tour’s 21 stages provide ample opportunity to dream. For stage hunters, for sprinters, for climbers, for yellow-jersey contenders. Everything is possible, and it’s on the sport’s biggest stage.
“The objective is quite simple,” Jonathan Vaughters, the team’s CEO, says. “We start the race trying to win the Tour de France. Is that optimistic and is that pushing the limits of our team? Absolutely. But we were second place last year. We have a little bit stronger team this year, and we have a parcours more suited to Rigo than last year. We have Rigo, who is stronger than he was last year. So we’re going in with the idea of trying to win the race.”
Find comments from each of the EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale Team’s Tour riders below.
RIGOBERTO URAN (COL)
“The importance of the Tour is easy to explain. Everything in July is top level – every rider, every stage, every second. It all matters. I need to focus for 21 days. It’s important to focus in the race, at the dinner table, for the sleep. From the moment you wake up until the moment you go to sleep, it’s like the World Championships every single day for three weeks.”
PIERRE ROLLAND (FRA)
“It’s always a pleasure to race the Tour, but the main thing isn’t only to participate in the race but to be a main actor. I want to be present in the mountains with Rigo, and if the chance presents itself, to win a stage, but first and foremost, I want to arrive without any problems to the first rest day, to pass all the complicated stages of the first week in the best condition possible.”
DANI MARTINEZ (COL)
“Being selected for this Tour team is a great achievement. There are a lot of deserving riders on this squad. Being chosen to race, to help Rigo as much as possible, makes me incredibly proud. To start the Tour is to fulfill a piece of my dream.”
SIMON CLARKE (AUS)
My role is to take leadership on the road, and this becomes more and more important the better Rigo is riding, which became really evident last year in the Tour. When a Tour de France podium is at stake, every decision takes on a new sense of importance. I had a massive learning curve last year, riding in a team where a bad decision could impact our ability to achieve a great result. I learned a lot last year that I’ll bring into this year’s race, behind the scenes, to try to provide Rigo with the best opportunity to ride to an even better result than last year.”
SEP VANMARCKE (BEL)
In theory the cobble stage would suit me perfectly, but I go to the Tour to help Rigo, so there are no personal goals except to help him as best I can. I’ve had five Tour starts, and this is the first time I’m going with a team fighting for the podium. It’s also the first time I do the Tour with #PinkArgyle, so that’s exciting.”
TOM SCULLY (NZL)
“It’s the race that everyone knows. If you ask someone about cycling, they say ‘Oh like the Tour de France?” so everyone can relate to it, cyclist or not. I’m there to ride the wind, get the bottles or whatever – domestique duties. I’m taking my first Tour day-by-day, ready to do whatever they need me to in support of our general classification ambitions.”
TAYLOR PHINNEY (USA)
“I think my role is chief vibration officer. I have to keep the vibes up, make sure the frequencies are calibrated. Mostly I’m there as team player, looking after Rigo and the rest of the guys on the flat stages. If there’s some sort of a window where I can go for something myself, I’ll take that opportunity but that’s not what I’m going to the Tour to do – but you never know what can happen over three weeks.”
LAWSON CRADDOCK (USA)
“Racing the Tour in 2016 was a huge learning experience for me. There’s a ton of things that I was able to take away from the race that I can bring to this year’s Tour. My role will be to help out Rigo to put him on the top step of the final podium in Paris. He’s a great leader that instills confidence in the people around him. Being a part of a team that has a legitimate chance to win the Tour de France is not an opportunity that comes around very often.
EF Education First – Drapac p/b Cannondale for the 2018 Tour de France:
- Charly Wegelius (GBR)
- Andreas Klier (DEU)
- Tom Southam (GBR)
- Rigoberto Uran (COL)
- Pierre Rolland (FRA)
- Dani Martinez (COL)
- Simon Clarke (AUS)
- Sep Vanmarcke (BEL)
- Tom Scully (NZL)
- Taylor Phinney (USA)
- Lawson Craddock (USA)