Rolland to lead, Craddock and others seek opportunities

The Cannondale Pro Cycling Team announces its Tour de France team today, placing an emphasis on the general classification with Pierre Rolland.

To the 103rd Tour de France, Cannondale sends Rolland, Matti Breschel, Lawson Craddock, Kristijan Koren, Ramunas Navardauskas, Sebastian Langeveld, Alex Howes, Dylan Van Baarle, and Tom-Jelte Slagter. The Tour de France begins on July 2 in Mont-Saint-Michel.

“We’ll be centering the team around Pierre Rolland, as this back-end loaded Tour de France uniquely suits his diesel-like qualities,” Slipstream Sports CEO Jonathan Vaughters said. “He may not be the most explosive rider, but come the last few days of the Tour de France, he will surprise a few folks. We’ll also be helping Lawson Craddock realize his potential in his first Tour, and looking for opportunities to animate the race. We go into this race as a hungry mongrel of a team. But I’ll take that over a poncy, over-fed poodle any day.”

The Tour team is versatile, and capable of stage hunting as well as protecting Rolland. Navardauskas is a past stage winner, and Rolland has won two himself.

Rolland, 29, is in his first season with the Cannondale team. At the Tour, he’s finished 11th (2014), 10th on two occasions (2011 and 2015), and 8th (2012).

“The Tour is simply the most beautiful cycling test,” Rolland said. “It is also one of the biggest sporting events in the world. From the time when I was young, I’ve always wanted to participate in this event and win stages. I’ve put in many days training, and with the team I have a really good feeling. Truly. I hope for a great performance, from me, from the team. What I’d really like is a new stage victory and to have the best possible overall standing. The competition is very hard, everyone is ready at 100 percent. I know it will be difficult, but I will do my utmost.”

Craddock, 24, will ride in his first Tour.

“This race is iconic for a reason, and I’ve been dreaming of it ever since I got on two wheels,” said Craddock. “I’ve worked really hard over my career to perform to the standards that I know I’m capable of, and to see that work paying off to earn a spot in the biggest race in the world is truly a dream come true. But the easy part was making the team. Now I’ve got to prepare myself to race at a level that I’ve never raced at before and, most importantly, put the team in a chance to succeed.”

Craddock is in his first season with the team as well, and will look to support Rolland in the mountains and take a chance himself, should the opportunity present itself. He took a break to rest after a heavy spring calendar and then spent time at altitude in Nederland, Colorado with teammate Mike Woods. The team then spent time at altitude in Europe preparing for the Tour. This spring, Craddock finished in the top 10 at the Tour of the Basque Country, Critérium International, and the Amgen Tour of California.

“With it being my first Tour it’s hard to place certain expectations on myself,” Craddock said. “I’ve heard stories about the Tour with the stress both on and off the bike. My main goal is to come in and show that I can race consistently at a high level throughout the whole race. Personally, I think that’s the next step in my development. If I can do that, and just be able to put the team in the best possible position for success, then I will be happy. Just lining up on the start line of the Tour is a dream come true, so if I were able to wear a jersey there then I think my mind would just explode. That being said, I’m a born and bred bike racer, and I line up to every race I do with dreams of winning. I’m not just going to the Tour to be pack fodder.”

“The anticipation to race is huge, and I can’t wait to get to France and put the race wheels on,” Craddock added. “I imagine that the few days leading up to the start I’ll have a few more nerves than normal, but at the end of the day it’s just another bike race. Once the neutral flag goes down on the first stage I’m sure those nerves will be replaced with pure adrenaline.”

Cannondale Pro Cycling Team for the 2016 Tour de France

Matti Breschel
Lawson Craddock
Alex Howes
Kristijan Koren
Sebastian Langeveld
Ramunas Navardauskas
Pierre Rolland
Tom-Jelte Slagter
Dylan Van Baarle