Cadel Evans believes he has the team support to help him defend his Tour de France title. Photo: Reuters
Cadel Evans says his BMC Racing team named on Tuesday for the Tour de France is stronger than last year's and he now knows he can retain the title.
The 35-year-old Australian will have the support of Americans George Hincapie and Tejay van Garderen, Briton Steve Cummings and Belgian Classics ace Philippe Gilbert, plus Germany's Marcus Burghardt, Amael Moinard of France, Italian Manuel Quinziato and Swiss rider Michael Schar.
Burghardt, Hincapie, Moinard, Quinziato and Schar all helped Evans win in the 2011 Tour and seven of the eight raced together at this month's Criterium du Dauphine - where Evans finished third behind Bradley Wiggins, his main rival for glory in a Tour which features more than 100 kilometres of time-trials.
Team director John Lelangue made it clear the team was selected solely to support Evans in his bid for a second Tour de France triumph in the three-week classic starting on June 30.
"We have one objective: to defend Cadel's title and bring him to the podium in Paris," Lelangue said.
"Everyone will know clearly what their job is during the three weeks of racing. Our roster has a really good balance, especially considering the parcours."
Evans was delighted with the strength of the team.
"I know now that I can win it and my lead-up this year is nearly identical to what we did last year," he said.
"We're bringing an even stronger team to the Tour this year and the route would seem to favour me.
"The time-trials will change the dynamics of the race and some of the tactics of my rivals.
"But like last year, I'll go to the Tour with my own plan, to ride my own race."
American Brent Bookwalter and Steve Morabito of Switzerland have been named as reserves.