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The picking of Jean Delatour in the forthcoming centenary Tour, has aroused much controversy and anger in cycling communities around the world: many cannot see why Jean Marie-Leblanc picked them ahead of Domina Vacanze and the world champion Cipollini, who have arguably had better early-season results. Was the ASO head’s pick justified? Or was it patriotic favouritism? We’ll never actually know the answer to those questions as they are strongly opinionated, but nothing can be done to the matter now, and Jean Delatour will make the best of this opportunity and try to leave a permanent mark on this Centenary edition. Maybe by the Champs Elysees and Paris at the end of the Tour will have answered many critics answered by pure Delatour class? Indeed, it has been a busy season to date for this small Div I outfit: most recently, they have become the scourge of Lance Armstrong following his crash and Patrice Halgand’s subsequent in a Dauphine stage. The drama never ends, does it?
Born: 21st November 1969, Switzerland
Pro Since 1997
Having spent a fruitless year with MBK-Oktos (formerly Oktos-Saint-Quentin), he was bought in September 2002 by Jean Delatour. Yet so far, it has still been a year of very little quality for the 33 year old. Although the Swiss’ climbing ability is not in doubt, whether he can mix it with the best in the world is unknown. But I do think his form is improving, having had a solid 9th overall in the Route du Sud (the final Tour warm-up race). He also had 7th in the Classic of the Alps previously. You can bank on an attack from him in the mountains, but I doubt Bourquenoud will come near to winning a stage: his best attribute is consistency every day.
Born: 20th August 1980, France
Pro Since 2002
This Delatour rider is on fire – and is only 22 years old! In his second year with Delatour, it has been a superb season to date for Dumoulin! He won the tough Tour of Normandie (2.5) overall as well as the Tro Bro Leon – thought to be the gravel equivalent of Paris-Roubaix. He can also sprint well, so the opportunities to win a sprint from a small group are there: he also had the endurance capabilities to go the whole distance. If he has a good Tour, I think (unfortunately) this talented young man will move on to a larger, more stable team. And if not, he will be back in years to come.
Born: 1st November 1979, France
Pro Since 2001
With more experience and more kilometres under his wheels, 23 year old Edaleine could become a class act. Yet he has the form and youthful enthusiasm to do adequately well here, and could lead Delatour to a good stage performance if Halgand or Dumolin have un jour sans (an off day). Having finished second on the tough seventh stage of the recent Dauphine, his form is being honed and – as a man who uses attack as the best form of ‘defence’ – if the peloton gives him enough time, he will make them pay.
Born: 20th March 1977, France
Pro Since 1999
Having narrowly missed out on Tour selection for this team (and subsequently winning the Tour of Doubs on the day of the prologue, interestingly beating a certain Bourquenoud into second), he has made it this year. The 26 year old is one of the fuyards who ‘Nevers-says-never’ (considering Nevers is his home town). Indeed, he and Stephane Berges of Ag2r Prevoyance escaped in the first 4 Days of Dunkirk stage and Finot out sprinted his breakaway companion for a brave win. He may be a speeding publicity billboard, but his domestique values are good too. And you never know – there’s always the chance of one of his attacks succeeding…
Born: 13th March 1970, France
Pro Since 1994
Goubert is definitely the best climber in the Delatour line-up, yet in 9 years of pro cycling he has never won a UCI noted-race! In late April, he broke his hand so it has been a struggle to return to suitable fitness. Nobody knows what to expect from the man from Montpellier, as his season so far has been virtually anonymous – the only notable performance being an early season 4th in the Tour of Haut Var. In the 2002 race, he was the team’s top GC finisher at 17th but it will be very hard for him to produce anything like that here. Like his team members, he will attack on occasions but – in unknown form – how he’ll fare on the mountainous roads is anyone’s guess.
Born: 2nd March 1974, France
Pro Since 1995
This man is the team leader and Jean Delatour’s ticket to a stage victory and an end to the criticism. But will the ticket expire? Last year Halgand attacked from his breakaway group and soloed away to a glorious victory on Stage 10 – but I think in this year’s event he’ll be a marked-man, especially as his opponents know that this man is the only proven stage-possibility for the team. Although his form hasn’t been as scorching as last year’s, he is still in good shape, following a podium finish (3rd) in the French Road Championships and a steady 17th overall in the Dauphine (the team’s highest overall finisher), with a Classic of the Alps 4th place prior to these. Earlier on in the season, he also had a podium finish on the queen 4 Days of Dunkirk stage, which led to 4th overall. On one of the hillier stages, look out for this 29 year old! However, it might be that US Postal and ‘Big Tex’ will chase down a break with Halgand in it: pay-back for the poorly-timed Dauphine attack maybe? Let’s wait and see – but you can bank on Halgand being up there on one stage this year…
Born: 7th February 1979, Ukraine
Pro Since 2002
Ironically, this Ukranian is one of the main reasons why Delatour got into the Tour this year. As an excellent time trialist, he won a stage of the Tour of Romanide and the Circuit de la Sarthe, although both were on road stages. Krivtsov is still 24 years old, and might be saving something for post-Tour and the spat of time trials: such as, the GP Nations (where he came 3rd last year) or the GP Eddy Merckx. I don’t think Krivtsov can win a stage, but he will gain experience and could be an outside bet to wear the Young Rider’s jersey after the Prologue: its technical sense is something he might excel at. If Krivtsov keeps working hard, he can become a really strong rider.
Born: 2nd July 1976, France
Pro Since 1999
Bonne Anniversaire Laurent! At the time of ‘coming to press’, this is Lefevre’s 27th birthday on July 2nd! And he’s arguably the Delatour rider in the best vein of form too! Having had a lifeless spell at Cofidis where he was just a bunch rider, this Frenchman has been allowed free attacking reign at Jean Delatour: and in the past month, it has paid off with a stage in the Internationale Bayern Rundfahrt and another, prestigious one in the Dauphine where he used tactics expertly to win by two minutes. As you can see, Lefevre is well suited to this team as attacking is his nature. He may be another constant attacker, but I doubt any attempts will succeed. Nonetheless, Lefevre is a competent climber and could figure highly on a stage (providing he attacks early on!).
Born: 18th January 1977, France
Pro Since 1997
Jean-Patrick Nazon – The younger brother of Damien (Brioches la Boulangere), Jean-Patrick is just as fast as his sibling. He’s won three times this season, taking 2 Volta ao Alentejo stages and a 4 Days of Dunkirk victory. Unfortunately, with such big names competing here, he’ll be lucky to top 5 on a stage. I also suspect he will abandon when the mountains come, as climbing isn’t his strong point. Nonetheless, in the first week ‘JP’ will be Delatour’s number one chance in the final sprints.
Directeur Sportif: Jean-Luc Jonrod
Substitute: Eddy Seigneur
Thanks to http://www.jean-delatour.com/equipe/ (the official team site) for the great photos and info and http://www.dewielersite.net/ for excellent palmares