Evans will lead BMC at 2013 Tour, says Ochowicz

The 2013 Tour de France may be nine months away but at the route presentation in Paris on Wednesday Jim Ochowicz attempted to put BMC's leadership issues to bed by claiming that Cadel Evans was the team's undisputed leader. The Australian won the race in 2011 but a year later suffered with illness and a lack of form. He eventually finished 7th overall but was outshone by his teammate, Tejay van Garderen, who finished two places higher and won the white jersey.

After the 2013 route was unveiled attention turned to the leadership at BMC: Would the aspiring van Garderen be given the opportunity to lead, would BMC back their veteran, or would they talk about two leaders and ‘letting the road decide'?

"We're going with Cadel as the team captain and then van Garderen as back up. Not joint leaders," Ochowicz emphatically told Cyclingnews.

"Tejay is still mentoring under Cadel and we don't want to put the pressure on him yet. That's good pressure for Cadel because he knows that he has a strong teammate. Cadel is very motivated and this is a great course for him."

As for BMC's Tour roster, Ochowicz stated that he hopes to bring a stronger contingent for the Pyrenees and Alps. During this year's Tour BMC was outgunned in the mountains, with only van Garderen and the ailing Evans able to match the tempo set by Sky's train.

"The race looks hard. You come off Corsica and you're directly in the Pyrenees with two hard stages, then a transfer up north and even though it's flatter you've got a time trial almost right away," Ochowicz said.

"The Alps look like each day is harder than the next. That's the race. We're going to bring more climbers to this race, fewer bulldozers and less Classics riders. We've got the roster for that now."

Ochowicz added that world champion Philippe Gilbert could decide if he wanted a slot on BMC's Tour team.

USADA and Armstrong

While Ochowicz was keen to look ahead to next year's Tour de France his past associations with Lance Armstrong were brought to attention. Ochowicz has known the former rider for over 20 years and brought him through the ranks at Motorola in the mid-90s. A keen supporter and friend of the Texan, Ochowicz attended a recent Livestrong event and as expected, stood by Armstrong when questioned in Paris.

"There's been so much said I don't even know how to keep up with it anymore. It was a difficult decision by those that had to make them and one that's going to live with us for a while yet, but I'm looking forward to the future," he told Cyclingnews.

"I feel bad for him, I do," he added.

"He's done a lot for cycling. Whether you support what you've just read or not is irrelevant, Lance has done a lot for cycling. He's done a lot for cycling and he's a friend and will be in the future.

"I was at the reception last weekend. We didn't have a discussion about it and he was fine. He made a nice speech. His fight is cancer now."

Whether the two men are friends, the evidence and verdicts over Armstrong have tarnished his career, leaving Ochowicz in what many believe is a difficult position as criticising Armstrong and his reputation may leave Ochowicz open to questions regarding his own past.

"I haven't read that document. Like I said there have been so many comments about it and I don't want to be one of the commentators about the findings. The findings are what they are, you either expect them or not. I've not read the document. I would rather not comment."

Finally, he was asked if he believed Armstrong had cheated. "I don't want to comment either way; I've not had time to read the report."

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