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Dan Martin to co-lead Garmin-Sharp in the Tour de France

Updated: Wednesday, 26 Jun 2013 21:22 | Comments

Dan Martin will co-lead Garmin-Sharp at the 2013 Tour de France
Dan Martin will co-lead Garmin-Sharp at the 2013 Tour de France

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Team Garmin-Sharp hope to spring a surprise at the Tour de France after announcing a nine-man squad today, featuring 2012 Giro d'Italia champion Ryder Hesjedal, highly-fancied Irishman Dan Martin and American Andrew Talansky as co-leaders.

Canada's Hesjedal, Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion Martin and Briton David Millar - whose position as super-domestique is confirmed despite prior rumours he may miss out - are joined by two-time top-10 finisher Christian Van de Velde, top-10 finisher Tom Danielson and Talansky, whose debut is eagerly anticipated.

Lithuania's Ramunas Navardausaks, New Zealander Jack Bauer and Rohan Dennis of Australia complete the squad, which Garmin-Sharp boss Jonathan Vaughters hopes can light up the Tour in a non-conformist way.

"We have a deep team with a lot of options," Vaughters said.

"Our goal is to animate the race and with an aggressive strategy, we will aim to place high in the general classification.

"We have a few guys capable of achieving that - Ryder's won a Grand Tour and placed in the top ten of the Tour de France; Andrew is young and while it's his first Tour de France, he is coming off a great season; and Dan Martin is having a breakout year with his wins in Catalunya and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

"We will protect our best GC options and see how the race shakes out.

"Our approach is a little unconventional, but we've managed to come up with surprises every year at the Tour and we're hoping for the same as we head into Corsica."

Vaughters' teams have a history of producing a wildcard to challenge for top honours, including the 2012 champion Bradley Wiggins.

"We will protect our best GC options and see how the race shakes out" - Jonathan Vaughters

Wiggins finished fourth - elevated to third when Lance Armstrong's results were annulled - in the 2009 Tour before moving to Team Sky.

Garmin-Sharp's maiden Grand Tour triumph came in Italy last year, but Vaughters knows his men are underdogs ahead of Saturday's start in Porto Vecchio, with Team Sky's Chris Froome the favourite in the absence of defending champion Wiggins, who has a knee injury.

Alberto Contador (Saxo-Tinkoff) cannot be discounted, either.

"If we want to be in the game at all, we need absolutely impeccable luck," Vaughters added to VeloNews.

"I still think Sky is the strongest team in the Tour, absolutely" - Jonathan Vaughters

"I still think Sky is the strongest team in the Tour, absolutely.

"But I think the difference that people will see in our team and Sky, and even a team like Movistar, or Saxo Bank, and Sky, I think those differences will be considerably smaller than they have been at the other races.

"I think Movistar will give them a run for their money. I think Saxo Bank will be stronger than people are anticipating."

Froome has won four of the five stage races he entered this year - the Tour of Oman, Criterium International, Tour de Romandie and the Criterium du Dauphine - and finished second to Giro champion Vincenzo Nibali at Tirreno-Adriatico.

Team Sky's Ian Stannard knows riding in support of Froome presents its own challenges.

"It's going to be hard riding for Froomey given that he's the overwhelming favourite," the Briton told VeloNews.

"The other teams will all be looking to put one over on us but we've got big ambitions of our own and we're all ready to race.

"The Dauphine is always a good indicator of the condition of the GC contenders and Chris has proved he's the strongest rider heading into the race.

"It's going to be great to support him and we've all got full faith in his chances of success."

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