Mark Cavendish will enjoy the backing of a strong and experienced sprint train at the Tour de France after Omega Pharma-Quickstep confirmed their nine-man line-up for the race.
The British champion, a stage winner at the Tour de Suisse, will be led out in his bid for the yellow jersey on stage one by Mark Renshaw and Alessandro Petacchi, with Niki Tersptra, Tony Martin and Matteo Trentin adding fire power to the sprint train.
Omega Pharma-Quickstep had already confirmed their intentions to support both Cavendish and Michal Kwiatkowski at the Tour, and Michal Golas and Jan Bakelants complete a typically strong squad.
Tom Boonen, the Omega Pharma-Quicksteps’s Classics leader, will not contest the Tour. Less surprisingly, Rigoberto Uran, the team’s GC leader, will also miss the French race having ridden to second overall at the Giro d’Italia.
Cavendish has made no secret of his desire to win the yellow jersey on stage one, which finishes in his mother’s home town of Harrogate.
And he will start a Tour alongside Renshaw for the first time since winning the green jersey in 2011 as he bids to do that.
World time trial champion Martin, who was beaten to the yellow jersey at the Tour de Suisse on the final stage by world road race champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) was also part of the HTC-Highroad squad in 2011.
The German looked in fiercely-strong form in Switzerland, picking up two time trial stage wins and also leading out Trentin to a stage victory too.
Both Trentin and Bakelants were stage winners at last year’s Tour de France too, alongside Martin and Cavendish, and Bakelants – who also won a stage of the Criterium du Dauphine this year – will make his first Grand Tour appearance since signing from RadioShack-Leopard in the winter.
There is no place in the squad for Gert Steegmans however, with the experience of veteran Italian Petacchi, winner of six Tour stages, and green champion in 2010, preferred in the sprint train.
Paris-Roubaix winner Terpstra, who will be considered among the favourites for the cobbled stage five, makes the cut despite having to abandon the Tour de Suisse however.
Kwiatkowski, meanwhile, will hope to build on a performance which saw him wear the white jersey for several stages last year.
The Polish champion will also hope to recapture the form which fired him to several podium places earlier in the season too, with compatriot Golas likely to play a key role alongside him.
From the long-list the team announced prior to the Tour de Suisse, there is also no place for Thomas de Gendt or Martin Velits, while Tom Boonen had already been announced as a reserve only.
Omega Pharma-Quickstep squad for the 2014 Tour de France
Mark Cavendish (GBR)
Michal Kwiatkowski (POL)
Tony Martin (GER)
Mark Renshaw (AUS)
Alessandro Petacchi (ITA)
Michal Golas (POL)
Niki Terpstra (NED)
Matteo Trentin (ITA)
Jan Bakelants (BEL)