BMC head to Tirreno with Evans as leader

In 2011 Cadel Evans (BMC) won his first Tour de France in a season which also saw the Australian win the overall at the Tour de Romandie and Tirreno-Adriatico where he also won Stage 6. Evans is once again heading to the race which is held between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic coasts of Italy which has been won by Italian Vincenzo Nibali for the past two season. Nibali won't be there to defend his title and Evans enters the race with a strong team and therefore, as a favourite for the win.

The seven-day race starts with a 16.9km team time trial, contains a pair of mountain stages on Saturday and Sunday and finishes with a 9.2km individual time trial. The race will be a chance for Evans to test himself against riders such as Richie Porte (Sky) who will line up in Belfast for the start of the Giro as his main rivals for the maglia rosa in May while other GC rivals will be Alberto Contador, Robert Gesink, Rigoberto Uran and Nairo Quintana.

Having taken out seventh place at Strade Bianche, Evans said that the one-day race was a sign of where his form currently sits.

"Strade Bianche was a little bit of an indicator for Tirreno and a good workout with some of the riders I hadn't raced with before who will be at Tirreno," Evans said.

Valerio Piva, BMC Racing Team Sport Director for Tirreno, said Evans will be helped by a number of veteran riders, including Steve Morabito, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schär and Danilo Wyss. Morabito, Quinziato and Schär were on hand to help Evans navigate through the gravel sectors of Strade Bianche.

"All three of them are strong and experienced guys who will keep Cadel in good position to the base of the climbs," Piva said. "But then, I expect more work from Ben Hermans and Dominik Nerz. They are our best climbers to be in the final with Cadel."

Hermans helped Evans to a runner-up placing at the Santos Tour Down Under in January while Nerz was integral as a domestique last year on several occasions, including Thor Hushovd's two stage wins and overall victory at the Arctic Race of Norway.

Joining Evans will be fellow past world road champion Philippe Gilbert, who won a stage at the race in 2011, who will also help Evans and play a key role himself as he builds for La Primavera on March 23.

"Philippe is our second leader as he continues to prepare for Milan-San Remo," Piva said. "So we will also be looking for chances for him in the non-mountain stages."

BMC Racing Team for Tirreno-Adriatico (March 12-18): Cadel Evans (Aus), Philippe Gilbert (Bel), Ben Hermans (Bel), Steve Morabito (Sui), Dominik Nerz (Ger), Manuel Quinziato (Ita), Michael Schär (Sui) and Danilo Wyss (Sui)

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