"We got really lucky with how the parcours of the Tour de France is this year. It's hard, it's consistently hard, and it's backend loaded. You know that the last week is the hardest week of the Tour de France and we have a guy who is uniquely capable of sort of slow, nasty slugfest.
The Tour de France isn't always that way. The Giro [d'Italia] conversely is always a slow, nasty, slugfest and Pierre has finished fourth at the Giro, his highest ever Grand Tour finish. The Tour de France this year, looking at it, has a little more of 18 rounds, no knock out punches type feel to it and I think Pierre is uniquely suited to that.
When you're playing moneyball and your budget is one third of the big teams you have to look at strange little statistics and see if you can find the diamond in the rough and one of the statistics we found with Pierre was, if you can prevent him losing time in the crosswind stages, in the flat stages, so on so forth.
If you just look over the past four of five Tours de France and you put him on par with the other favourites at the start of the mountains where he hasn't conceded 10 minutes or 12 minutes due to a crash, due a crosswind split, so on so forth. If you just put him on par, he is always in the top three of five guys.
We brought a lot of big, mean Dutch guys to this Tour de France to do our damnedest to put him on par at the base of the mountains. From there on out, it's up to him to be the slugger for the next 16-and-a-half rounds.
We have to see how things develop. Of course we want to do a great GC with Pierre, but there are also a lot of fun objectives kicking in there. Stage wins, polka dot jersey… the polka dot jersey has become a lot harder proposition in the last few years because of the double points on mountain top finishes but I don't think it's totally out of reach. Our tactics are never conservative when our riders are good, and I think all of our guys have hit this race well as far as their form goes.
We've never been conservative, we've always been a little non-sequitur, always have people scratching their heads a little bit. When and where and how that happens, I don't know exactly but I certainly listen. Ryder Hesjedal won the Giro out-smarting a guy that was probably stronger then he was. Andrew Talanksy won the Dauphiné by outsmarting a couple of guys who were probably stronger then he was. I can go on and on with these examples, Johan Vansummeran winning Paris-Roubaix … this team, we've never just out-horsepowered everyone. That's just a function of how we have to play it and we enjoy doing it. This Tour isn't any different in that regard and if you look at historically how Pierre has done well in the Tour de France it's the sneak attack."