Cadel: My team is stronger than in 2011

With the Tour de France just days away, Cadel Evans has said the eight riders selected to support him are stronger than those who rode alongside him in his 2011 triumph.

BMC selected six of the riders who rode in 2011 and probably would have selected seven, had George Hincapie not retired.

The combination of Brent Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Phillipe Gilbert, Amaël Moinard, Steve Morabito, Manuel Quinziato, Michael Schar and Tejay van Garderen give BMC significant power in their lineup.

Van Garderen was BMC’s best performing rider last year, finishing fifth and claiming the Best Young Rider’s white jersey.

However, van Garderen has said the white jersey is not his aim, but helping Cadel win is.

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

Gilbert, although usually a breakaway and one-day specialist has said he will do everything possible to deliver Cadel in yellow on the Champs-Elysee.

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

Gilbert’s ability to get into an early breakaway will provide Evans an opportunity to attack if needed and pick up a strong teammate along the way.

Bookwalter and Burghardt, according to Evans, were two of his best in the team time trial and flat stages in 2011, keeping him near the front and setting the pace when needed.

Bookwalter himself is in good form, finishing second in the USA National Time trial, Road race and Tour of Qatar.

BMC is improving every year in their team time trial results, having van Garderen in form as well as Gilbert is a good sign for BMC.

They will give more than able support to Evans in the time trial. Van Garderen may even be the driver given his time-trialling ability.

Along with Burghardt, Quinziato and Schar are described as Cadel’s ‘guardian angels’ – the men who will do everything in their power to keep him safe and in one piece.

Frenchman, Amael Moinard was a key man in assisting Cadel in his win in the 2012 Criterium International and will again take his place in the lineup.

Evans was bullish about his team’s climbing chances this year, saying “we are a lot stronger in the mountains than in previous years.”

If Evans is able to be ably supported by his men it will be a welcome relief for the Australian, who has had to ride solo a lot in his career due to being too strong for his teammates.

Both van Garderen and Gilbert will provide good support in the mountains, allowing for Cadel to either attack or defend with teammates around.

The most promising signs for BMC are the fact they finished first in the team classification in both the Tour of Oman and the Tour of Qatar.

Both of those tours featured high powered teams from Sky and Saxo-Tinkoff. That would definitely be a boost for BMC.

Not only that but BMC will not field a debutante in this year’s Tour. Every one of the riders have experienced the Tour and as such it will not be a new experience for them.

An important factor when your are attempting to deliver your team captain to his second Tour win.

Nothing is certain in the Tour and form can float up and down in those 3 weeks in July. Every rider will have to perform to their best to have Cadel in yellow once more but there’s nothing to say they can’t do it.