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Bora-Argon 18: Breakaways and an Irish Sprinter

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After a seventh place finish last year and a sponsor change, Bora-Argon18 will now be working for a sprinter from Carrick-on-Shannon. Nerz is there to climb, and there are also some breakaway specialists.

San Bennett will lead Bora-Argon18 in the Tour. Here he wins stage 6 of the Tour of Qatar.
San Bennett will lead Bora-Argon18 in the Tour. Here he wins stage 6 of the Tour of Qatar.
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

The cooker hood company and the science teacher's bike manufacturers got a wildcard, and are sending:

Sam Bennett: Young, 24-year old sprinter with lots of potential. Lived in the same town as Seán Kelly since he was four. He's got a good palmares, with a stage of the Tour of Britain, one in the Tour of Qatar, three stages of Bayern Rundfahrt, beating Bouhanni and Degenkolb in them, and also some smaller one-day races like the Clasica de Almeria and the Rund um Koln. Has shown well in the classics, though is unlikely to contest stage 4. He's been fifth in Scheldeprijs, and did very well in Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, making the selections only to lose positioning in the final sprint. That could be his Achilles heel, but there'll be one or two stages where he gets it right. If he wins a stage do not be alarmed if you hear loud shouts. An exciting talent.

Dominik Nerz: More youth, less sprinting. Nerz is only a year older than Bennett and will serve as team leader when the road rises. Has only ridden one Tour, but has sneakily gotten two top-20s in the last two Vueltas. Weighs less than Froome, but don't expect to see him too often, my prediction for him is a top 10 on a late mountain stage from a break and finishing in the top 25.

Jan Barta: Not a good Tour for him. He's a very strong time triallist, and may start the prologue in Czech colours. However, he won't win it. A top 10 there is possible, and he will look to get in breaks, and will likely be one of the last guys left out of them. A very strong rouleur.

Emanuel Buchmann: This is the stage when I wonder what i got into. I know almost nothing about this guy, but I think, from what I can see in his results that he's a climbing domestique. He came 7th in the Tour de L'Avenir and will be helping Nerz.

Zakkari Dempster: A domestique, and Sam Bennett's best lead out man. Expect him to be the last man in front of the sprinter on the flat stages.  He sprinted for himself in the ZLM Toer, and managed a top 10.

Paul Voss: All-rounder with some finishing speed. Will also be a part of Bennett's lead out train, but might be in breaks on any terrain. Rode the Dauphiné, and was in the break on the final stage, finishing 14th.

Bartosz Huzarski: Domestique. You might see him on the front with 60 kilometres to go on a flat stage.

Andreas Schillinger: Another all-rounder. Will probably be helping Bennett.

José Mendes: A good climber. Showed well in the Giro del Trentino and came fifth in the Criterium International. Will be in breaks in the mountain stage.

Who's missed out?

The two slight surprises were the absence of Scott Thwaites and Shane Archbold from the lineup. Thwaites had a good classics campaign, and I expected him to be in the team, and Shane Archbold is a good lead out man. Other than that it seems like as strong a team as they could field.

Conclusion:

Bora-Argon 18 have no GC rider who can finish in the top 10, so most of their efforts will be behind Bennett, who despite not quite having the speed of Bouhanni & Cavendish, Inc. often surprises with high finishing speed if he gets his positioning right. Other than that, they can get in breaks and maybe nab a stage.