Over the years, numerous trainee athletes from the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland, have added their names to the list of professional cyclists who have completed the prestigious Tour de France.
Some have made headlines, such as three-time winner Chris Froome (GBR) and Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot, who in 2015 became the first ever black African rider to wear the climber’s polka dot jersey. Others have carried out valuable support roles for their teams throughout the three-week Grand Boucle.
A few days out from this year’s Grand Depart, we highlight the UCI WCC’s former trainees who will be on the start line in Düsseldorf (Germany).
32 years old
UCI WCC trainee: 2007 (Under-23)
Also known as Froomey or the White Kenyan, Chris Froome needs little introduction. Already three-times winner of the Tour de France (2013, 2015 and 2016) Froome will be looking for another victory with Team Sky. Born in Nairobi (Kenya) to British parents, he was using his Kenyan nationality during his five months training at the UCI WCC in 2007, but began racing under his British nationality the following year.
Tsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay
25 years old
UCI WCC trainee: 2011-2012
Competing in his third consecutive Tour de France this year, the Ethiopian became his country’s first professional cyclist when he joined MTN-Qhubeka on leaving the UCI WCC in 2012. The following year, he became the first Ethiopian to win an international cycling event when he claimed victory in the fifth stage of the Tour de Taiwan. He made his UCI WorldTour debut at the 2013 Il Lombardia.
28 years old
UCI WCC trainee: 2008
Usually in the shadow of his little brother Peter, Juraj Sagan nevertheless beat the reigning UCI World Champion last year to claim the title of Slovakian National Champion. Together with his brother, he signed with Bora Hansgrohe this season after two years (2015 and 2016) with Tinkoff and previously Liquigas-Doimo, Liquigas-Cannondale and Cannondale, also by his brother’s side.
26 years old
UCI WCC trainee: 2012 (Under-23)
After training for six months at the UCI WCC, the Argentinean joined the French UCI Professional Continental Team FDJ-BigMat before moving to another second division team registered in France, Bretagne-Séché Environnement (now Fortuneo-Vital Concept) in 2013. His first professional success came in 2015 when he won the Classic Sud-Ardèche. This year he makes his third appearance in the Tour de France.
28 years old
UCI WCC trainee: 2006, 2008
This year will be Jarlinson Pantano’s third participation in the Tour de France. While riding for IAM Cycling, he finished 19th in both 2015 and 2016, with a stage win last year on the 15th stage, a mountain stage across the Grand Colombier, from Bourg-en-Bresse to Culoz, where he beat Poland’s Rafal Majka in the sprint. In February this year, he took the Colombian national title in the time trial and finished second in the road race.
24 years old
UCI WCC trainee: 2011
Professional since 2014, this young Czech rider competed in his first Grand Tour, le Giro d’Italia, in 2015. Later that year he won bronze at his first European Games, one week before claiming the Czech Republic national road title. Last year was Vakoč’s first appearance in the Tour de France. He started 2017 strongly with sixth place in the UCI WorldTour event, the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race in Australia.
30 years old
UCI WCC trainee: 2009
While riding in the colours of the UCI World Cycling Centre, Jacobus Venter finished fourth in the 2009 Tour de l’Avenir (France), the same year that he claimed the national South African time trial title in both the U23 and Elite categories. After three participations in the Vuelta a España (2014-2016) and one in the Giro d’Italia (2016), Venter will make his debut in the Tour de France this year.