Former champion Cadel Evans will be surrounded by six of the BMC Racing riders who helped him to the maillot jaune in 2011 as he bids to follow his third place at the Giro d’Italia with a spot on the podium at the 100th Tour de France.
The Australian rider, 36, become one of just 14 riders to have stood on the podium at all three Grand Tours in Italy last month and insists he will roll out in Corsica on Saturday June 29 in good shape.
Joining him on the start line for the American team will be 2011 team-mates Brent Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Amaël Moinard, Steve Morabito, Manuel Quinziato and Michael Schär.
And with reigning world champion Philippe Gilbert and last year’s white jersey winner Tejay van Garderen also selected, Evans, who finished 26th in France when he last attempted a Giro-Tour double in 2010, is confident of a better showing this time around.
“My recovery and training has progressed well this time as we attempt the Giro-Tour double,” he said. “When I look back at our 2010 attempt, I feel a lot better this time around.
“I am happy to have my three ‘guardian angels’ – Quinziato, Burghardt and Schar – around me, plus Brent, Amaël and Steve from our successful 2011 team.
“And with Tejay coming into the mix, we are a lot stronger in the mountains than in past years.
“It will be crucial to be consistent everywhere, on the flat stages and time trials, etc. The climbs will be particularly important this year and avoiding bad luck is always key as well.”
After bagging last year’s white jersey through his fifth-place finish and storming to Tour of California victory earlier this year, 24-year-old van Garderen is seen as favourite to top the young rider classification again.
However, the rising American star has vowed to put personal glory aside in his quest to lead Evans to what could be a seventh top-ten Tour de France finish.
“The white jersey wasn’t a goal of mine last year and it’s not again this year,” he said. “It just came along with me being up there every day, helping Cadel, which is my focus again this year.”
Belgian rider Gilbert enters the Tour on the back of podium finishes in the Brabantse Pijl and Tour of Belgium and top-ten spots in the Amstel Gold Race, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Gullegem Koerse.
But the 30-year-old also insists his focus is on helping Evans, and directeur sportif John Lelangue is confident his nine-man squad are fully-focused on the task in hand.
“We have a really strong team and can go to Corsica with a lot of confidence with this team of experienced guys,” said Lelangue.
“They are all in good shape and focused on a sole objective. They also have been working well together in one-week races this year, so they know how it is to work for a leader.”
Swiss national champion Schar, 26, is set to be a key domestique in his third Tour as will 33-year-old Italian Quinziato, who rides for the eighth time, and Amael Moinard on his sixth-consecutive start.
Further support on the climbs will come from German one-time stage winner Burghardt, 29 – notable for his collision with a dog on Le Tour in 2007 – who took the mountains classification title in this year’s Tour de Romandie.
Morabito, meanwhile, is the only one of Evans’ Giro support team to be selected for Le Tour as he looks to follow up a solid effort which also helped him bag a Grand Tour career-best 34th-place finish.
Finally, American national championship runner-up Bookwalter will be a key rider in the team time trial having been part of BMC’s stage-winning team at the Tour of Qatar.
Tour de France 2013 – BMC Racing Team
Tejay van Garderen