Mapei, one of the biggest teams in the sport, will be hoping for a far better Tour de France than the Giro d’Italia.
Their team leader for the race and the 2000 Giro winner, Stefano Garzelli, was kicked out this year after failing a drugs test.
New rider Cadel Evans made up in part for Garzelli’s expulsion with an impressive 14th place.
While the Australian former mountain biker may yet cause a stir in Le Tour, Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Paolo Bettini will be the team’s top-ranked rider in France.
Manager: Alvaro Crespi
Team leader:Paolo Bettini
Best Tours: Six stage wins in 1998
Mapei have been the top team of the last 10 years in world cycling, and the richest.
But they have struggled to come to terms with the sport’s biggest event, Tony Rominger being their highest achiever throughout the Eighties.
Bettini might be capable of pushing for a strong finish this time around, but may prefer to concentrate on stage wins.
Daniele Nardello has also been consistent over the years as a Tour finisher.
Sprinting attention will once again be on Tom Steels, who has been plagued by injury and illness recently.
The team have confirmed that the Belgian will be part of the team for the race and, his previous pedigree in the sprints ought to see him come away with at least one stage win.
His lack of consistency throughout the full month of the race may hamper any thoughts of the green jersey.
Source: BBC Sport – Cycling News