Scanlon confirmed for Tour

ark Scanlon has been selected for Ag2r's Tour team after a series of strong performances this seaso

ark Scanlon has been selected for Ag2r's Tour team after a series of strong performances this seaso
Twenty-three-year-old Irish professional Mark Scanlon will become the eighth Irish rider in history to line up for the Tour de France this coming Saturday. The former world junior champion's French Ag2r team confirmed on Monday that Scanlon was part of their squad for this year's race, and will become the first Irishman to take part in the three-week event since Stephen Roche in 1993, writes Shane Stokes. Scanlon turned professional with the first division French team in 2003 and quickly got into his stride, winning the opening stage of the Tour of Denmark and taking the Irish national road race championship for the second time. He also rode strongly at the end-of-season road race world championships in Hamilton, Canada. This year, Scanlon is on the verge of moving into the world's top 200 riders having last month won two 1.3-ranked races in Estonia - results that confirmed his place on the two-man Irish Olympic road squad, which was officially announced by the Irish selectors on Sunday evening. "I'm delighted to get the chance to ride the Tour," Scanlon said. "I'm very happy to ride, but I am going to approach it like any other race rather than build myself up too much. I'll just take it as it comes and see how I get on." Scanlon will join Ag2r team-mates Laurent Brochard, Jaan Kirsipuu, Jean-Patrick Nazon, Stephane Goubert, Nicolas Portal, Yuri Krivstov, Mikel Astarloza and Samuel Dumoulin in the Tour line-up. The man from Sligo, in north-west Ireland, will have a clear role once he's completed the prologue time trial in Lige, Belgium on July 3. "I know that when it comes to a sprint finish I'm not the fastest on the team, so I'm going to be leading out Kirsipuu or Nazon on the flatter stages," he said. "As we head towards the mountains, I know it's going to be Brochard or Goubert who I'll be working for, as they are the strong climbers. "But perhaps my main goal will be to cover breaks during the stages. I've been told that if a move goes, I'll have to go with it. Indeed, that would be one of my main objectives: to get away in a good break." Scanlon plays down any talk of a stage win at this early point in his career. However, should he slip into a move which stays clear to the finish, his strong gallop could certainly land him a high placing. What's equally important is getting to Paris and building form, strength and experience for future years.
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