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Tour de France 2006



AG2R Prevoyance

Christophe Moreau
Team boss: Laurent Biondi
Team leaders: Francisco Mancebo/Christophe Moreau
2005 Tour best: Mikel Alstarloza, 27th

Despite no stage wins, AG2R certainly did not disgrace themselves last season, finishing 10th in the team standings and having one rider in the top 30 overall. Francisco Mancebo has since boosted their ranks.

Agritubel

Juan Miguel Mercado Martin
Team boss: David Fornes
Team leader: Juan Miguel Mercado Martin
2005 Tour best: n/a

Although not among the top-ranked teams, the French outfit have won a wildcard to appear at the Tour.

Astana-Wurth

Alexandre Vinokourov

The team were left with no option but to withdraw from this year's race when five of its riders were forced to quit after being implicated in the doping investigation currently sweeping the sport. Rules state that a team, normally nine riders, must field at least six to start one of the major Tours. The decision means that team leader Alexandre Vinokourov, who was not one of the five riders named, would not be able to compete. The Kazakh star had high hopes of winning this year's race after finishing fifth in 2005. The team had already had a troubled build-up to the race. Team boss Manolo Saiz resigned after being named in the doping probe while Liberty Seguros withdrew its sponsorship.

Bouyges Telecom

Thomas Voeckler
Team boss: Jean Rene Bernaudeau
Team leader: Thomas Voeckler
2005 Tour best: Laurent Brochard, 28th

After his dream Tour debut in 2004, Thomas Voeckler failed to recapture the magic, which went for much of his team, who finished 12th out of 21 teams.

Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears

Valverde
Team boss: Jose-Miguel Echavarri
Team leader: Alejandro Valverde
2005 Tour best: Francisco Mancebo, 5th

The team's name has changed a tad from last year, as has their line-up - with the highly rated Francisco Mancebo now heading up AG2R's efforts. Alejandro Valverde is a classy replacement as team leader.

Cofidis credit par telephone

Sylvain Chavanel
Team boss: Eric Boyer
Team leaders: Sylvain Chavanel/David Moncoutie
2005 Tour best: Cedric Vasseur, 44th

Their riders were there or thereabouts for a host of stages without really delivering. That said, David Moncoutie made amends with victory on Bastille Day to give them something to cheer about. Watch out this time for Brit Bradley Wiggins.

Credit Agricole

Pietro Caucchioli
Team boss: Roger Legeay
Team leader: Pietro Caucchioli/Thor Hushovd
2005 Tour best: Christophe Moreau, 10th

Their top two riders from 2005 - Christophe Moreau and Andrey Kashechkin - have gone elsewhere for this season. As a result, Pietro Caucchioli ought to head up their hopes.

Team CSC

Ivan Basso
Team boss: Bjarne Riis
Team leader: Carlos Sastre
2005 Tour best: Ivan Basso, 2nd

The team's hopes were hit when Ivan Basso was caught up in the doping investigation sweeping cycling. The Italian, who was hoping to become only the 12th rider to win both the Giro d'Italia and the Tour in the same season, was subsequently withdrawn on the eve of the race.

Davitamon-Lotto

Cadel Evans
Team boss: Marc Sergeant
Team leaders: Cadel Evans/Robbie McEwen
2005 Tour best: Evans 8th

Cadel Evans was the surprise package in the Tour's top 10 last season and, according to his team, has progressed as a rider a year on. If that wasn't enough, his outspoken countryman Robbie McEwen will be going for it in the sprints.

Discovery Channel

Paolo Savoldelli
Team boss: Johan Bruyneel
Team leaders: Paolo Salvodelli/Yaroslav Popovych
2005 Tour best: Lance Armstrong, winner

There have been Discovery celebrations at the end of the last seven Tours de France courtesy of Lance Armstrong but, even without the Texan, the team have got another solid outfit. It remains to be seen who will become the centre of the team's attentions.

Euskatel-Euskadi

Iban Mayo
Team boss: Miguel Madariaga Barinaga
Team leader: Iban Mayo
2005 Tour best: Haimar Zubeldia, 15th

On their day, the Basque climbers are simply unmatchable. Sadly for them, team leader Iban Mayo has steadily failed to deliver of late. Should he get it right in 2006, he and his team will be a force.

FDJeux.com

Sandy Casar
Team boss: Marc Madiot
Team leaders: Brad McGee/Sandy Casar
2005 Tour best: Casar, 29th

Brad McGee has promised so much since an impressive eighth place at the 2004 Giro without really delivering. Sandy Casar, a surprise fifth on the Giro this year, looks the likely contender to push in the general classification.

Gerolsteiner

Levi Leipheimer
Team boss: Hans Michael Holczer
Team leader: Levi Leipheimer
2005 Tour best: Leipheimer, 7th

Levi Leipheimer will be eyeing a place in the top five and, despite his team talking up his chances, victory looks unrealistic. He should again have capable back-up in Georg Totsching, himself a top-10 candidate.

Lampre

Damiano Cunego
Team boss: Giuseppe Saronni
Team leader: Damiano Cunego
2005 Tour best: Eddy Mazzoleni, 13th

Prior to last year's start, all the talk was about the now departed Gilberto Simoni and current team leader Damiano Cunego, only for Eddy Mazzoleni to upstage them both. Cunego's fourth place in the Giro has once again seen people talk up his Tour chances.

Liquigas

Stefano Garzelli
Team boss: Roberto Amadio
Team leader: Stefano Garzelli/Danilo di Luca
2005 Tour best: Garzelli, 32nd

There's no doubting Liquigas have the calibre of riders in Stefano Garzelli, Danilo di Luca, Dario Cioni and Franco Pellizotti. But they failed to click as anticipated when it came to the three weeks of last year's tour.

Team Milram

Erik Zabel
Team boss: Gianluigi Stanga
Team leader: Erik Zabel
2005 Tour best: n/a

The newly formed team's ambitions were ripped asunder on the Giro d'Italia when regular team leader Alessandro Petacchi fractured his kneecap. He has undergone an operation and will not be fit for the race.

Phonak Hearing Systems

Floyd Landis
Team boss: John Lelangue
Team leader: Floyd Landis
2005 Tour best: Landis, 9th

Phonak's already impressive line-up has been added to with the signing of Axel Merckx, although that has possibly been outweighed by Oscar Pereiro's departure. Floyd Landis will once again head up the team's hopes.

Quickstep

Tom Boonen
Team boss: Patrick Lefevere
Team leaders: Juan Miguel Garate/Tom Boonen
2005 Tour best: Michael Rogers, 41st

Juan Miguel Garate rode an impressive Giro d'Italia for the team - he finished seventh - but it remains to be seen if he has the legs for another big tour. Failing that, Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini will be vying for stage wins.

Rabobank

Mickael Rasmussen
Team boss: Theo De Rooy
Team leaders: Michael Boogerd/Michael Rasmussen
2005 Tour best: Rasmussen, 7th

Michael Rasmussen had the ride of his career last year, while Michael Boogerd's 24th place showed he is still there or thereabouts. There will be great hopes also that Denis Menchov can recapture his best.

Saunier Duval-Prodir

Gilberto Simoni
Team boss: Mauro Gianetti
Team leader: Gilberto Simoni
2005 Tour best: Leonardo Piepoli, 23rd

There have been wholesale changes at the Spanish team, with Chris Horner and Juan Manuel Garate among those exiting, and David Millar and Gilberto Simoni coming in. Millar will be aiming to make his mark on his return from suspension, while Simoni will hope to build on a strong Giro d'Italia.

T-Mobile Team

Jan Ullrich
Team boss: Mario Kummer
Team leader: TBC
2005 Tour best: Ullrich, 3rd

T-Mobile are in turmoil on the eve of the Tour, with Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and team manager Rudy Pevenage suspended after being caught up in an anti-doping probe. Michael Rogers, Patrik Sinkewitz and Eddy Mazzoleni will now shoulder the burden.



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