Andrew Talansky was a given, his best shot for an overall podium. But by the time Vaughters had finalized the rest of the U.S.-based team, Talansky was the only American on it.
One of just three in the entire 198-rider field.
The rest of the Cannondale-Garmin team starting Saturday come from Ireland, Canada, Slovakia, New Zealand, Australia, Lithuania and the Netherlands. And that raises a question: In the post-
"This is a little bit of a blip," said Bob Stapleton, who owned the highly successful U.S.-based HTC-Highroad and is now the chairman of USA Cycling's board of directors.
"I think there's kind of an ebb and flow," he said. "We have a huge bunch of juniors and U-23s coming forward that are going to be really good. But I do think our head count is down a bit."
The last time there were this few American riders in the Tour was 1996, when Armstrong was joined on a team by
Only two are back: Talansky and
In fact, one of the three U.S.-based teams, Trek Factory Racing, is without an American rider at all after Matthew Busche was left off its roster.
"It's totally a blip," said former pro cyclist Todd Gogulski. "Teams are literally just this week announcing their teams, and that tells you how tough it is to make the selection."
There are plenty of reasons for the lack of stars-and-stripes flavor.
Injuries is perhaps the biggest.
Time trial specialist
Assuming both were healthy and fit, they would have had a good chance of making the team that will try to deliver van Garderen to the podium on the final day in Paris.
"It's a bummer I can't be there with Tejay and the guys," Stetina said. "I know they're saying it's one of the most mountainous tours, and I know that's where I could come in handy."
Another reason for the lack of Americans is a simple changing of the guard. The generation of
So, guys such as 23-year-old Lawson Craddock (Giant-Alpecin) and 24-year-olds Ian Boswell (Sky) and Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin) were passed over in part for more experienced riders.
While that makes this year's Tour de France more like "Tour de-void of Americans" — not a good thing with the world championships returning to U.S. soil for the first time since 1986 this September — it is also a big reason Vaughters and so many others are bullish about the future.
"You have a great crop of talent that, you know, haven't won a grand tour yet, haven't won the Tour de France yet, but are showing a lot of potential," Vaughters said. "I don't know if you have a
What is lacking in quantity is at least partially made up for in quality.
Farrar is back to contending for sprint stages with South Africa-based MTN-Qhubeka, while Talansky and van Garderen are at their best in the mountains, where they hope to trump favorites Alberto Contador, Nairo Quintana, Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali for the podium.