Fernando Gaviria has been left out of the UAE Team Emirates squad for the 2019 Tour de France, as the Colombian sprinter continues to struggle with a knee injury. Dan Martin will lead the team’s overall challenge, while Fabio Aru has also earned selection after completing the Tour de Suisse last week.
Winner of two stages on last year’s Tour, Gaviria abandoned the Giro d’Italia in the opening week citing a knee problem and has not raced since. The Colombian’s participation in the Tour de France has been in doubt for several weeks and his absence was confirmed on Thursday, when UAE TEam Emirates confirmed their final eight rider for the Tour de France.
Alexander Kristoff will instead serve as UAE Team Emirates’ lead sprinter, while young fast man Jasper Philipsen has also been handed a debut in La Grande Boucle in what is his first season at WorldTour level. The Belgian youngster was a stage winner at the Tour Down Under in January and has been consistently well-placed in recent sprints.
This year’s Tour de France begins with a 192km stage that starts and finishes in Brussels, and the flat terrain should ensure that the sprinters fight it out for the first maillot jaune of the race.
Kristoff won the sprint on the Champs-Élysées last year and landed two stages in 2014. The Norwegian, who won Gent-Wevelgem this spring, recently extended his contract with UAE Team Emirates.
As well as Philipsen, Kristoff will also be able to rely on the support of fellow Norwegians Sven Erik Bystrøm and Vegard Stake Laengen in the bunch sprints.
Aru cautious but back on track
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