Belgian pro team QuickStep has announced its Tour de France roster, with Gert Steegmans lining up as the replacement sprinter for the excluded Tom Boonen, found to have used cocaine in late May.
Tour of Flanders winner Stijn Devolder is the team's hope for a strong overall placing. This will be the Belgian national champion's first Tour.
The Belgian outfit had hoped for some clemency for Boonen, the race's reigning green jersey champion (points competition), underlining the fact he tested positive for a recreational drug.
But QuickStep have accepted the Tour owners' (Amoury Sports Organization) decision.
"Although we continue to consider what happened to Tom as an extra-sports episode," said team manager Patrick Lefevere, "we also respect the position expressed by the ASO during the meeting held last week in Paris. After talking at length with the rider we believe that this is the best solution for Tom and the team. Tom will try to compete for the green jersey next year."
Boonen said: "Obviously I'm very disappointed to miss the start of the Tour. I know how much this race means to my team, my sponsors and all my fans. Next year I'm going to come back even more motivated to try again for the green jersey."
Carlos Barredo (Esp), Matteo Carrara (Ita), Stijn Devolder (Bel), Steven De Jongh (Bel), Sebastien Rosseler (Bel), Gert Steegmans (Bel), Matteo Tosatto (Ita), Kevin Van Impe (Bel), Jurgen Van de Walle (Bel)
© BikeRadar & AFP 2008