Cadel Evans will have six of his teammates from his victorious 2011 for company when he lines up for this year’s Tour de France in Corsica on June 29. The BMC squad, which was announced on Saturday, also includes reigning best young rider Tejay van Garderen and world champion Philippe Gilbert.
There is no place for Thor Hushovd in the nine-man selection, while Mathias Frank, who impressed at the recent Tour de Suisse, has also been left out. Instead Evans, van Garderen and Gilbert will be joined at the Tour by Brent Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Amaël Moinard, Steve Morabito, Manuel Quinziato and Michael Schär.
“I am happy to have my three 'guardian angels' – Quinziato, Burghardt and Schär – around me, plus Brent, Amaël and Steve from our successful 2011 team,” Evans said. “And with Tejay coming into the mix, we are a lot stronger in the mountains than in past years."
Evans has not raced since he finished in third place at the Giro d’Italia but he was adamant that he is in a better position to tackle two Grand Tours in succession than when he last attempted to do so three years ago. “My recovery and training has progressed well this time as we attempt the 'Giro-Tour double. When I look back at our 2010 attempt, I feel a lot better this time around," he said.
While van Garderen finished 5th last year, two places ahead of Evans, BMC has been firm in its insistence that the team hierarchy remains unchanged. Van Garderen said that his primary function is to ride for his Australian teammate in the mountains.
“The white jersey wasn't a goal of mine last year and it's not again this year," van Garderen said. "It just came along with me being up there every day, helping Cadel, which is my focus again this year."
For his part, Gilbert is still chasing his first win in the rainbow jersey of world champion but he said that he is travelling to France with no specific objectives beyond working for Evans. "For me, I am just a helper, but it will be special to be part of the 100th Tour de France," he said.
Hushovd, Frank and Dominik Nerz have been named as reserves in the event of the need to make any late changes to the roster and general manager Jim Ochowicz said the selection process had not been an easy one.
“Selection starts the day after the previous Tour in regards to evaluation, and we take into final consideration the course design and performance and health issues leading up to this point," Ochowicz said. "The evaluation of that information was used to select nine athletes and three alternates, who equally earn a right to take the start. But for any one of several of the selection criteria, they just didn't get there."
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