12 Belgians aim high for Tour de France
The 12 Belgians participating in the Tour de France on Saturday are hoping to replace Tom Boonen as stage winners.4 July 2008
BELGIUM - Is there life after Tom Boonen? The Belgian armada in the Tour de France has 12 members, including some young and ambitious riders who could replace Boonen as stage winners.
Tom Boonen, who took the green points jersey in 20070, was barred from the world's biggest cycling event after testing positive on cocaine in an out-of-competition check last month.
There are 12 Belgians left among the 180 contenders taking the start in Bretagne on Saturday.
The two Belgian teams at the start, Quick-Step and Silence-Lotto, are sending four and five Belgian riders to Brest respectively.
Quick-Step has Gert Steegmans who should take over from Tom Boonen as the team's sprint leader, Jurgen Van de Walle, Sébastien Rosseler and Stijn Devolder, the winner of the Tour of Flanders 2008 who aims for a good general classification in Paris.
Silence-Lotto is sending five Belgians, the majority of whom will have to help Australia's Cadel Evans win his first Tour de France.
Vetarans Mario Aerts and Wim Vansevenant, the West-Fleming who has a reputation for aiming for the last spot in the overall rankings, have the company of Johan Vansummeren, Leif Hoste and Christophe Brandt.
Silence-Lotto also counts on Australia's Robbie McEwen. The Belgian resident aims for stage wins and the green jersey.
There is also Frederik Willems of Liquigas, and last but not least two Belgians in French teams: Philippe Gilbert of La Française des Jeux and Maxime Monfort of Cofidis.
Gilbert turns 26 on Saturday and would like to celebrate that with a stage win, which would also allow him to take the yellow leader's jersey. Monfort is aiming for the overall classification.
[flandersnews.be / Expatica]