Lefevere: No Tour for Sinkewitz

While some are wondering whether their teams will be up to the challenge at the Tour, Quick Step hav

SINKEWITZ Patrick ( GER ) 
While some are wondering whether their teams will be up to the challenge at the Tour, Quick Step hav

Patrick Lefevere has spoken to procycling this morning of the selection headache that culminated in the Quick Step-Davitamon supremo leaving Tour of Germany winner Patrik Sinkewitz out of his line-up for the Tour de France. Lefevere announced the decision on Monday, to the widespread consternation of German fans and media lobbying for the 23-year-old’s inclusion. Sinkewitz, fresh from a creditable seventh place overall at the Tour of Switzerland, confessed that he was “disappointed”, having been “hopeful of riding my first Tour”. With Germany’s latest wunderkind overlooked, Quick Step’s general classification hopes at the Grande Boucle will rest with Juan Miguel Mercado and Michael Rogers. Richard Virenque, Laurent Dufaux, Servais Knaven, Stefano Zanini, Tom Boonen, Paolo Bettini and Davide Bramati make up the team, with Laszlo Bodrogi and Pedro Horrillo as the two reserves. “It was terribly difficult, not only to decide whether or not to take Patrik, but to pick the whole team,” Lefevere told procycling. “Patrik deserved his place, but Tom Boonen has been going marvellously all season. It was only right that we gave him some support. A rider like Bramati may not be the most talented in the peloton, but his help and experience could be very valuable to Boonen.” To the question of whether the addition of Bramati at the expense of Sinkewitz is a statement of Boonen’s intent in the green jersey competition, Lefevere refused to commit. “It’s not necessarily that,” he said. “It was also a decision which reflects our long-term ambitions for Patrik. I envisage working with him for a good many years yet, so there’s no rush. The fact that he is quite tired made it easier to choose. I don’t want to ruin his body and his morale by putting him through the Tour when he’s already slightly fatigued.” While Sinkewitz’s attentions may now turn to the Vuelta a Espa¤a in September, Lefevere is looking forward to his eclectic line-up competing on several fronts at the Tour. Richard Virenque will aim for stage victories and a seventh King of the Mountains jersey, Boonen for sprint wins and perhaps the green jersey, and Michael Rogers and Juan Miguel Mercado for the general classification. World number two Paolo Bettini’s dual ambitions are to pocket a stage victory and touch up his form before the August Classics and Olympic road race. With no genuine contender for the yellow jersey in Paris, Lefevere claims to be looking forward to a Lance Armstrong-Jan Ullrich duel in which he believes the five-time Tour champion starts as favourite. Contrary to speculation about how his bitter legal wrangle with the authors of the book, LA Confidential – the secrets of Lance Armstrong, could distract Armstrong, Lefevere believes it could provide the motivation he needs to overcome Ullrich. “A lot has been made of his new girlfriend and the fact that he’s seemed more relaxed off the bike, but I think that will be offset by another factor: the book. I think that Lance is very angry, and it will be his rivals at the Tour who feel the full brunt of that anger.”