Cadel’s comrades named for Tour defence
Tejay van Garderen – it’s distinctive and next month he could become a household name among Australian cycling fans.
If Cadel Evans successfully defends his Tour de France title, the 23-year-old American will have played a crucial role.
The most important change that their BMC team have made to the nine-man roster that rode so well in last year’s Tour has been to include van Garderen.
He has led the polka dot jersey category in the Tour as the best climber and the American might one day be an overall contender himself.
BMC recruited him this year specifically to help Evans on the big Tour climbs.
He and Amael Moinard, who was in the Tour team last year, will be the Australian’s key lieutenants through the mountains.
Their job will be to pace Evans, help contain any dangerous moves and help keep their team leader out of trouble.
Evans has to ride for himself in the two crucial time trials, but no one can prevail in the mountain stages without some sort of solid help.
Belgian Philippe Gilbert and Brit Steve Cummings also joined BMC this year, along with Norwegian star Thor Hushovd.
BMC would love Hushovd in the Tour team as well, but he has struggled with ill health and could not be considered.
Hushovd would have been a big asset for Evans on the flatter stages and the medium climbs, as the Norwegian showed with some powerful rides in last year’s Tour.
While Gilbert is certainly a handy “domestique” as well, he also has not repeated his dominant form from last year.
Cummings is another solid workhorse for the flat racing and the medium hills.
Of course, the key to BMC is not so much who is in the team but how they work together.
BMC were not the best team on paper at last year’s Tour de France, but no other team combined better. They produced a textbook performance in how to support a GC (general classification) contender.
The next intriguing question will be who rival team Sky pick around Evans’ main rival this year, British star Brad Wiggins.
While Evans is the defending champion, Wiggins has shown better form so far this season and will go into the Tour as the narrow favourite.
The Sky team is also likely to feature Australians Michael Rogers and Richie Porte as two of Wiggins’ helpers through the mountains. It will be a formidable line-up.
Sky are also set to name sprinter Mark Cavendish, which goes against the prevailing wisdom that if a team thinks their leader can win the Tour, then they must focus all their energies on that one goal.
If Wiggins and Cavendish – who won the green jersey for the points classification in 2011 – do ride in this year’s Tour, it will be fascinating to see how Sky manage the situation.© AAP 2013