PARIS (AFP) – Australia's Cadel Evans will have six of the team that helped him win the 2011 Tour de France alongside him when he tries to regain his crown when the race starts next Saturday in Corsica.
The 36-year-old Australian - who had a woeful time defending his title last year but showed a return to form when third in the Giro d'Italia earlier this season - will also have world road race champion Philippe Gilbert and highly-rated American Tejay Van Garderen in a powerful looking BMC team.
"I am happy to have so many of the old team together for this challenge," said Evans.
"With Tejay (Van Garderen) a year older we will be stronger in the mountains than we were last year," added Evans, who is due to compete in his ninth Tour de France.
Van Garderen outshone Evans last year finishing fifth overall and winning the young rider's title but the 24-year-old said that he was not specifically targeting a repeat win in the white jersey category.
"The white jersey will not be my priority, as indeed it wasn't last year," he said.
"It just happened after a few good days in the race in my efforts to help Cadel and that is still my main objective this year."
Such is the strength in depth of the team that experienced Norwegian rider Thor Hushovd has not been selected despite winning 10 stages and winning the green jersey twice.
"We took into consideration the profile of the race, performances so far this season and the riders physical shape," said team president Jim Ochowicz.
"But regardless of the selection criteria the potential replacements did not perform well enough to be selected."
Brent Bookwalter (USA), Marcus Burghardt (GER), Cadel Evans (AUS), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Ama??l Moinard (FRA), Steve Morabito (SUI), Manuel Quinziato (ITA), Michael Sch??r (SUI), Tejay van Garderen (USA).