Skil-Shimano not surprised to miss out on selection to the Tour de France
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Skil-Shimano not surprised to miss out on selection to the Tour de France

by Jered Gruber at 6:56 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Dutch ProContinental team hoping for Wild Card invites to Vuelta and Walloon Classics

Lost amid the slight surprise of Geox-TMC being overlooked for a Wild Card entry into this year's Tour de France was yet another overlooking for Skil-Shimano. The team took part in the 2009 Tour de France, but wasn't invited back last year, and will not get a chance in 2010 either.

The Dutch team, which sits behind its two bigger Dutch counterpart teams, Rabobank and Vacansoleil, might not be headed to the Tour de France this summer, but there's hope of many other wild card selections for the upcoming year. At this point, it's still a possibility that the squad could get a Wild Card entry into either the Giro or the Vuelta.

"We had hopes for the Tour, but we also knew that there were four strong French teams. It was nevertheless in line with our expectations that they would get the wild cards. It is of course a pity, but we are now hoping for the Giro or the Vuelta," said team manager, Iwa Spekenbrink at today's Skil-Shimano team presentation.

Spekenbrink doesn't seem to be wasting too much hope on the Giro though, instead focusing his energy on Wild Card entries into the Vuelta and the Ardennes Classics.

"The Vuelta and the Walloon classics remain our goal. We knew that participation in Paris-Nice and the Tour would be hard, and it has proved so. That it happened today during the presentation does not matter."

Speaking at the team's presentation today, Spekenbrink was excited about his squad's talent pool heading into the new season.

"In 2011, we will compete with a strong team, on paper it's the strongest one we've ever had. The riders are good and have worked hard in preparation, so we are very confident in view of the new season."

The team, which doesn't count a major star rider in its ranks, will be comprised of seven Dutch, six French, five Germany, two Chinese, one Japanese, one Australian, and one Belgian. It's a workman-like line-up full of capable, aggressive riders and a few fast men, including Kenny van Hummel and Roger Kluge.

The lack of a big name rider might be one of the only things holding back the powerful team. While Van Hummel is certainly no slouch and is continually improving, he is not yet at the level of the world's best. In the dicey game of Wild Card invitations, Skil-Shimano has proven its mettle as a team that will animate any and every race it takes part in. The real question though is - will that be enough to gain entry into a Grand Tour this year? With 18 teams enjoying locked up spots, there will never be more than four Wild Card selections, and it seems highly likely that nationalistic tendencies will play a strong role in the Wild Card selections at both the Giro and Vuelta as well.

It's not something that Skil-Shimano can control though. Other than racing their bikes, staying free of doping scandals, making breaks, and winning races, there's not much left to be done. Team leader, Kenny van Hummel, could be the team's key for 2011 though. If his progression continues, and he can assert himself as one of the world's fastest men, he could be the star the team needs. The Dutch sprinter, who came to fame in 2009 as not only a race winner, but also the courageous lanterne rouge at the Tour de France, is aiming to get his season moving quickly this time around.

"Usually, I only start to get good results in April and MAy, but this year, I've worked hard to be good from the start. First, I'll go to Malaysia for the Tour de Langkawi, then on to Qatar and then Oman. I'll only be at home for one day over the next month," said the rider to Omroep Gelderland.

Matthieu Sprick (Fra), Simon Geschke (Ger), John Fröhlinger (Ger), Thierry Hupond (Fra), Yann Huguet (Fra), Albert Timmer (Ned), Curvers Roy (Ned), Koen de Kort (Ned), Mitchell Docker (Aus), Thomas Damuseau (Fra), Ronan of Zandbeek (Ned), Marcel Kittel (Ger), Ji Cheng (Chn), Robin Chaigneau (Ned), Roger Kluge (Ger), Kenny van Hummel (Ned), Martin Reimer (Ger), Bert De Backer (Bel), Tom Veelers (Ned), Han Feng (Chn), Yukihiro Doi (Jap), Thomas Bonnin (Fra), Alexandre Genniez (Fra)



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