Evans feeling strong for Tour



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    Former champion Cadel Evans and emerging talent Tejay van Garderen will lead BMC Racing at the Tour de France, the team confirmed on Saturday.

    The 36-year-old Evans, who won the race in 2011 and challenged Sir Bradley Wiggins in the second week of last year’s event before falling away, will be contesting his ninth Tour.

    Earlier this year, the veteran rode to third place at the Giro d’Italia but despite the heavy schedule, the Australian insists he feels in great condition.

    “My recovery and training has progressed well this time as we attempt the Giro-Tour double,” he said.

    “When I look back at our 2010 attempt, I feel a lot better this time around.”

    Supported by six members of the BMC team that shepherded him to victory two years ago – Brent Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Amael Moinard, Steve Morabito, Manuel Quinziato and Michael Schar – Evans will begin the Tour as the squad’s leader.

    However, he will need a strong start to retain that control with Van Garderen, 24, considered a significant contender in his own right.

    Evans added: “I am happy to have my three ‘guardian angels’ – Quinziato, Burghardt and Schar – around me, plus Brent, Amael and Steve from our successful 2011 team. And with Tejay coming into the mix, we are a lot stronger in the mountains than in past years.”

    Van Garderen finished fifth last year, pulling ahead of Evans in the mountains, and was named the best young rider of the Tour, leading many to single him out as a potential winner this year.

    For now, Van Garderen said his objective is to support Evans.

    “The white jersey wasn’t a goal of mine last year and it’s not again this year,” he said.

    “It just came along with me being up there every day, helping Cadel, which is my focus again this year.”

    Reigning world road champion Philippe Gilbert completes the BMC nine, and he too insists he is happy to put aside personal ambitions in order to help Evans contend in the general classification.

    “For me, I am just a helper, but it will be special to be part of the 100th Tour de France,” he said.

    © AAP 2018

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