The most northern Baltic nation has had a very good year this year in the U23 ranks with multiple top 10 finishes in the Nations Cup races including the Ronde van Vlaanderen, La Cote Picarde and Trofeo Almar. Their performances have them ranked 9th in the Nations Cup rankings and just a few points behind giants such as Great Britain and Germany.
Roster: Mikhel Raim, Martin Laas, Oskar Nisu, Aksel Nommela, Josten Vaidem & Timmo Jeret.
For l'Avenir, they don't have anyone that will be contesting the GC. Their biggest hope will be to snag a result in the early stages and then hold on for dear life as the race enters the mountains. Their two big riders are Raim and Laas, who ride together for the French amateur team Pro Immo Nicolas Roux. Raim is a classics-style rider that does well on hard courses with results such as his 6th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen U23 and 2nd in the Trofeo Almar. He is able to mix it up in a sprint but isn't going to be able to beat the fastest riders. Laas is the faster of the two in a out & out sprint and was 6th in the European U23 RR in Tartu, won the bunch sprint in the Trofeo Almar for 10th place and won the Tour of Estonia overall after taking a small breakaway sprint on the first stage.
The rider they bring that might be able to put up a fight in the sprint is Aksel Nommela. Nommela, who also rides in France in Saint-Etienne, was 5th in the La Cote Picarde Nations Cup and has 3 wins on the French circuit this year as well as a handful of decent finishes in bunch sprints. The concern with Nommela is the step up in competition and if he will be able to handle the hills. Perhaps a top 5?
Nisu? Breakaways and shagging bottles. Also helping where he is needed in the sprints and elsewhere. Jeret will be in the same area but is a bit better time trialist and should be able to work the hills a little bit better.
Vaidem isn't half bad in the hills and has had a good amount of results in France this year in hillier races with UC Aubenas but again, this is another level of competition compared to that. Get him in a breakaway and see what he can do.
If you notice, all of these riders are on French teams, which is the route many Estonians have taken dating back to Jaan Kirsipuu's entrance in the peloton.
Prediction: A 3rd place for Raim on a random stage; 4th place for Nommela in one sprint.