Tour de France team news: BMC, HTC-Columbia, Sky, Katusha

Plenty of ambition, very few jerseys to win

BMC want Evans to aim for yellow

American outfit BMC on Friday announced the nine-man team it hopes will help Australian Cadel Evans take aim at the Tour de France yellow jersey over the coming weeks.

Evans is a former two-time runner-up of the world's toughest bike race but had a race to forget last year in what was his final stage race for former team Silence.

The reigning world road race champion, Evans will be joined by American George Hincapie and former world champion Alessandro Ballan of Italy for the team's debut outing on the July 3-25 race.

Joining the trio will be American Brent Bookwalter, German Marcus Burghardt, Swiss pair Mathias Frank and Steve Morabito, Dutchman Karsten Kroon and Italian Mauro Santambrogio.

Team manager John Lelangue, who was the manager of Phonak when American Floyd Landis won the race in 2006 only to be stripped of his title for doping, said the entire team would be devoted to Evans' cause.

"The best result for the BMC Racing Team is looking to the highest step on the podium," Lelangue said in a statement released by BMC.

"With Cadel, we come to the Tour clearly with one objective - one leader. All of the team will be focusing on supporting him."

Evans prepared for the Tour by racing the three-week Giro d'Italia, where he finished a commendable fifth overall.

The Australian said his season has gone well, but he hopes for more.

"Leading into the Tour, things seem to be coming together," Evans said.

"For me, the Giro was a bit more fatiguing than I expected, possible because of the health problems I encountered. We will see during the Tour how my alternative race program goes."

Going into his 15th Tour, during which he was part of all seven of Lance Armstrong's triumphant campaigns on the race, Hincapie's experience could prove very useful.

The American veteran could provide much needed support for Evans throughout the race, but particularly during a tricky first week.

"There are cobblestones in the mix and small roads and wind and possible bad weather conditions, so it can be very hectic," he said. "I think the first week this year can blow the whole race wide open."

Ballan meanwhile missed the Giro after he was implicated in doping allegations. The 2008 world champion was provisionally suspended by BMC, who then cleared the Italian after carrying out their own investigation.

Ballan said he is now on form and ready to support Evans.

"I was most worried about not returning in time to be selected for the Tour de France," Ballan said. "I had hoped to help Cadel at the Giro but was unable to participate. Now I can work 100 percent for him at the Tour."

Team roster

Alessandro Ballan (ITA), Brent Bookwalter (USA), Marcus Burghardt (GER), Cadel Evans (AUS), Mathias Frank (SUI), George Hincapie (USA), Karsten Kroon (NED), Steve Morabito (SUI), Mauro Santambrogio (ITA)

HTC-Columbia want green, yellow at Tour de France

Michael Rogers

HTC-Columbia's Michael Rogers will spearhead his team's aim of challenging a number of bigger favourites for the Tour de France yellow jersey.

Rogers, who won the Tour of California earlier this season, has recently completed an altitude training camp in a bid to find better condition for the July 3-25 race, where he will be supported by German ace Tony Martin.

HTC-Columbia's best chance of winning a jersey is Mark Cavendish, the British sprinter who has won 10 stages in the last two editions of the race and who will aim for the points classification's green jersey.

However team manager Rolf Aldag said they also wanted also to "field a team who can focus on the overall".

"Rogers has had the best season of his career to date and is very focused on contending in the general classification," he said. "Tony Martin comes off a very successful Tour of Switzerland, where he held the yellow jersey for the first part of the race and won the closing time-trial, making him the first person to beat Fabian Cancellara in a time-trial in three years.

"They will be supported by Maxime Monfort, who showed excellent form at the Tour of Switzerland, Adam Hansen, who won the Ster Elektrotoer stage race last weekend and Kanstantsin Sivtsov, who is a tireless worker on both flat and mountainous terrain."

Aldag said they would focus all their efforts on grabbing as many points as possible during the flatter stages, in a bid to make sure Cavendish succeeds in winning the green jersey.

"To win, we need to concentrate all points with one sprinter. As a result we have not included Andre Greipel in the roster," added Aldag, referring to the German sprinter who famously does not see eye to eye with Cavendish. "Mark won six stages of the Tour de France last year and we have faith that he will be highly successful in the 2010 Tour."

Team roster

Mark Cavendish (GBR), Bernhard Eisel (AUT), Bert Grabsch (GER), Adam Hansen (AUS), Tony Martin (GER), Maxime Monfort (BEL), Mark Renshaw (AUS), Michael Rogers (AUS), Kanstantsin Sivtsov (BLR)

Wiggins heads up Team Sky Tour de France bid

Brad Wiggins

British cycling ace Bradley Wiggins will as expected lead Team Sky's maiden Tour de France challenge after the team was announced on Thursday for the race which gets underway in Rotterdam on July 3 and finishes in Paris on July 25.

The 30-year-old two-time Olympic track gold medalist will be aiming to improve on his stunning fourth in last year's edition.

Wiggins will be joined by two other British riders Geraint Thomas - a member of the victorious Olympic team pursuit quartet with Wiggins in 2008 - and former Commonwealth and world track champion Steve Cummings in the nine man team for cycling's most prestigious race.

"It's every bike rider's dream, my dream, to go to the Tour," said Cummings.

"I'm very excited, but I'm there to go and do a job, support the team and support Bradley and take opportunities for myself if they come up.

"I will stay around him and support him and make sure he has what he needs to do his job as well as he can.

"It's not just me, it's the whole team. We've all got to do a job and look after him and put him in the best position to do his job."

Spaniard Alberto Contador won last year's Tour de France and is back to defend his title this year with the Astana team, along with seven-time champion Lance Armstrong and his RadioShack outfit.

Team roster

Michael Barry (CAN), Steve Cummings (GBR), Juan Antonio Flecha (ESP), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Edvald Boasson Hagen (NOR), Thomas Lövkvist (SWE), Serge Pauwels (BEL), Geraint Thomas (GBR), Bradley Wiggins (GBR)

Katusha: Veteran Rodriguez to make Tour debut

Spanish veteran Joaquin Rodriguez will make his Tour de France debut with team Katusha in the Tour de France from July 3-25.

The 31-year-old Rodriguez finished third in the Tour of Switzerland last week and sixth and seventh in the last two Tour of Spain races.

The Russian team will include two riders who have already won Tour de France stages - Russian Serguei Ivanov and Australian Robbie McEwen.

Team roster

Pavel Brutt (RUS), Sergey Ivanov (RUS), Joaquin Rodriguez (ESP), Vladimir Karpets (RUS), Robbie McEwen (AUS), Alexander Kolobnev (RUS), Stijn Vandenbergh (BEL), Eduard Vorganov (RUS), Alexandr Pliuschin (MDA)

© AFP 2010

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