Tejay van Garderen kicking off 2014 season in Oman

Tour de France season objective for American

Tejay van Garderen is making his 2014 racing debut at the Tour of Oman, a race he has never previously ridden, as he prepares to better his fifth place at the 2012 Tour de France. With Cadel Evans targeting the Giro d'Italia, the former white jersey winner at the Tour has been handed the leadership of the French grand tour by BMC.

"I am looking forward to getting back into the groove with the team," van Garderen said. "I have trained well in sunny California and I feel like I am starting the season at a good level. I have had a lot less travel and commitments this winter, which allowed me to focus solely on the bike and time with the family.

"Oman will be a good test. I am coming here to gain fitness and confidence."

The 2012 overall winner of the race, Peter Velits, who began his season by helping Taylor Phinney win the Dubai Tour, said he is looking forward to racing with van Garderen, whom he was a teammate with in 2010 and 2011 at HTC.

"I am not coming here with any specific ambition," Velits said. "I just want to do a good race with the team. Dubai showed that the work we did during the winter was good, so I hope this race will confirm it."

Joining Velits and van Garderen are five riders who recently made appearances at the Tour of Qatar, Marcus Burghardt, Philippe Gilbert, Martin Kohler, Michael Schär and Greg Van Avermaet. They will be joined by Dominik Nerz, who competed at the Tour de San Luis last month.

Sport Director Valerio Piva said team's goals for the race will be two-fold. "We have more climbers here because of the profile," Piva said. "I think we have more chances with Philippe and Greg, too. So it's possible we can do something for stages while we still have ambitions for the general classification."

BMC have won two overall classifications already in 2014 as Steve Cummings held onto his lead to claim the Tour Méditerranéen, adding to Phinney's success in Dubai.

BMC Racing Team Tour of Oman: Marcus Burghardt (GER), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Martin Kohler (SUI), Dominik Nerz (GER), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA) and Peter Velits (USA).

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