Paris-Roubaix, Flèche and Liège teams announced
Races organiser ASO invites 25 teams to Spring Classics
Tour de France organiser ASO has announced the final list of teams that will take part in this year's editions of Paris-Roubaix, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. A total of 25 teams have been selected for each of the events, including seven wildcard invitations on top of the 18 ProTeam squads.
For Paris-Roubaix, these seven wildcard entries include five French teams - Cofidis, Europcar, FDJ, Bretagne-Schuller and Saur-Sojasun - as well as German team NetApp and Dutch Skil-Shimano.
Four former winners of the 'Hell of the North' are expected to be at the start line in Compiègne on April 10: Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) will be trying to retain his 2010 title, accompanied by teammate and 2007 winner Stuart O’Grady, along with three-time victor Tom Boonen (Quickstep) and veteran Frédéric Guesdon, who triumphed in 1997.
Six other podium finishers will be in attendance, planning to move their way up the standings: World Champion Thor Hushovd, Filippo Pozzato, Alessandro Ballan, George Hincapie, Juan-Antonio Flecha and Roger Hammond.
Moreover, ASO has confirmed a number of other big riders expected to start, such as Under 23 winner Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team), Peter Sagan (Liquigas), Tyler Farrar and Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Cervélo), Bernhard Eisel and Matt Goss (HTC Highroad), Robbie McEwen and Robert Hunter (RadioShack), Edvald Boasson Hagen and Bradley Wiggins (Sky), Stijn Devolder (Vacansoleil-DCM) and Lars Boom (Rabobank).
As for Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, scheduled on April 20 and 24, the seven wildcard entries include three French teams - Cofidis, FDJ, Saur-Sojasun - as well as Belgian teams Landbouwkrediet, TopSport Vlaanderen, Veranda’s Willems Accent and Dutch squad Skil-Shimano.
Cadel Evans (BMC), who took one of his most beautiful victories on top of the Mur de Huy as last year's world champion, will be present to defend his 2010 Flèche Wallonne title. Other riders ready to dig deep include some who have missed victory by a hair in the past: Ivan Basso, Karsten Kroon, Samuel Sánchez, Andy Schleck, Joaquim Rodríguez and Damiano Cunego.
Other possible contenders include Robert Gesink and Luis Leon Sanchez from Rabobank, Tony Martin and Tejay van Garderen (HTC-Highroad), Nicolas Roche (AG2R) and Pierrick Fédrigo (FDJ) amongst many more.
Finally, at the last of the Ardennes Classics, 'La Doyenne', former winners Alexander Vinokourov and Andy Schleck are expected to battle it out once again against such rivals as Philippe Gilbert, Joaquim Rodríguez, Damiano Cunego, Alexandr Kolobnev, Fränk Schleck and Ivan Basso.
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By Josh Croxton