|John DEGENKOLB||WARREN BARGUIL||Georg PREIDLER||Roy CURVERS||Ramon SINKELDAM||Koen DE KORT||Albert TIMMER||Tom DUMOULIN||Simon GESCHKE|
Created in 2005 under the moniker of Shimano-Memory Corp, resulting from the merger between Dutch team Bankgiroloterij and Japanese Shimano, the team initially registered in the Netherlands and managed by Iwan Spekenbrink made progress during six seasons, combining its rise with the return to the pack of equipment maker Skil, which had already sponsored Sean Kelly’s team in the 1980’s, hence the remake of a vintage jersey. However, in 2012, the group moved up a gear with the backing of oil company Argos North Sea Group and is now the standard-bearer for the biggest bicycle manufacturer in the world (with 6 million bikes sold per year), the appropriately named firm from Taiwan: Giant. This year, it co-sponsors the team with Alpecin, a German shampoo brand.
Its first participation in the Tour de France in 2009 left fond memories thanks to the motivation of lesser French riders left by the wayside by major teams, including Cyril Lemoine, 3rd on the 3rd stage (infamous for the trap set by Lance Armstrong for his so-called team-mate Alberto Contador, in the Camargue winds), the self-sacrifice of sprinter Kenny van Hummel, struggling on the mountain passes, and the surges of Japan’s Fumiyuki Beppu, 7th at Aubenas and still on the attack on the Champs-Élysées where he won the day’s most combative rider prize.
Invited for the second time in 2012, Argos, still with the same Japanese co-sponsor Shimano, had placed all their hopes on young sprinter Marcel Kittel, who was not in good form from the start due to a bout of gastro-enteritis. However, in 2013, he reaped his revenge, with four stage victories including the first, accompanied by the Yellow Jersey in Bastia, and the last, the most prestigious, on the Champs-Elysées. The young German, who rides alongside his countryman John Degenkolb, a classics specialist and winner of the Milan-San Remo/Paris-Roubaix double this year, knocked Mark Cavendish of his pedestal and confirmed his potential in 2014 by winning four more stages including the first and last ones once again. Giant-Alpecin’s ambitions are increasing with Dutch all-rounder Tom Dumoulin, a candidate for the first Yellow Jersey in Utrecht, as well as French climber Warren Barguil, who has performed convincingly on the Vuelta (winning two stages in 2013 as well as finishing 8th in 2014) and is impatient to make his debut on Le Tour.
Stage victories: 8
- 2013: Marcel Kittel at Bastia, Saint-Malo, Tours and Paris
- 2014: Marcel Kittel at Harrogate, London, Lille and Paris
Victories in secondary classifications: 0
Yellow Jerseys: 2
- 2013: Marcel Kittel, one day
- 2014: Marcel Kittel, one day
4: the number of the team’s participations in Le Tour and the number of stage victories for Marcel Kittel in both 2013 and 2014.
6th July 2009: the first stage podium finish for the Skil-Shimano team on Le Tour with the 3rd place achieved by Cyril Lemoine at La Grande Motte behind Mark Cavendish and Thor Hushovd.
29th June 2013: in the unusual context of a Grand Start in Corsica, the immense class of Marcel Kittel becomes common knowledge, once the cumbersome presence of the Orica-GreenEdge bus, stuck under the finishing line gantry, had been removed.
5th July 2014: Ji Cheng becomes the first Chinese rider to start Le Tour, in the colours of Giant-Shimano.