World road Champion Cadel Evans has confirmed that the Giro d'Italia will be included on his race schedule for next season.
Evans, 32, will compete in the three-week race for the first time since his first and only participation in 2002. He told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport that while he will also target the Tour de France, he will return to Italy with overall victory on his mind.
"I'm finally making a return to the Giro," he said. "I've had a focus on the Tour [de France] in recent years but I think I am able to race two grand tours at a high level."
He will return to the race with new team BMC, who, although not yet assured of a start in the Tour de France, will race the Italian Grand Tour. Evans' new teammate, former World Champion Alessandro Ballan, announced at the Giro presentation in October that he would take part in his home Grand Tour for the first time next season.
The inclusion of the Giro marks a change of thinking for Evans. His previous team, Silence-Lotto, had proposed the race be included in his 2009 schedule, however Evans decided instead to favour of a programme closer to that of 2007 and 2008, where he had finished second at the Tour de France. He finished this year's Tour in 30th place overall.
In his previous Giro participation Evans finished 14th overall and wore the leader's jersey, the maglia rosa, for two stages (16 and 17). The result came while racing for Mapei-Quick Step, in his first full season as a road professional after making a transition from mountain biking with team Saeco the previous year.
Evans Grand Tour pedigree will see him installed as a favourite for the 2010 Giro, which will begin in Rotterdam, The Netherlands on May 8 and concludes in Verona on May 30. He will face defending champion Denis Menchov (Rabobank), as well as Franco Pellizotti and Ivan Basso, who announced this month that they will act as co-captains of the Liquigas squad.
Last year's Tour de France winner Alberto Contador and RadioShack's Lance Armstrong have both confirmed they will skip the Giro. Evans will however face Armstrong at the Tour Down Under as both riders open their seasons with the event in January.
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