One year after not being invited by the organisers to its sponsor’s home race, the BMC Racing Team will head to the Tour de Suisse looking for an aggressive showing.
World champion Cadel Evans is still recovering from the Giro d’Italia and so will not be taking part. Instead, the team will be fronted by the likes of former rainbow jersey wearer Alessandro Ballan and George Hincapie, the current US road race champion.
However according to director sportif John Lelangue, there won’t be an official team leader. Instead, he will look for an attacking attitude from the riders, using the race as a chance to gain attention, hone form and chase success where it can.
"The objective will be to go on the offensive because it's a pretty hard race," he said. "It will be a good final test for the group going to the Tour de France. Most of the guys going to this race will be on the Tour roster for the month of July."
Evans will of course be one of those heading to the Tour, but in taking Lelangue at his word, the rest of the team will be largely chosen from Ballan, Hincapie, Marcus Burghardt, Matthias Frank, Karsten Kroon, Alex Moos, Steve Morabito and Mauro Santambrogio.
BMC Racing is not competing in the Dauphiné Libéré, the other traditional Tour warm-up race, and so this fits in with Lelangue’s statement that the Tour riders overlap with the Tour de Suisse squad.
The lineup for the latter includes two past stage winners; Moos triumphed in 2002, while Morabito grabbed victory for years later.
The team heads to Switzerland motivated by its position in the world rankings. World champion Cadel Evans is now world number one, taking over the top slot after the Giro d’Italia. He was initially ranked second, 18 points behind Alejandro Valverde, but the latter then lost all his points from 2010 when he was deemed guilty of involvement in Operación Puerto by CAS.
Heading the world ranking while holding the rainbow jersey is a very rare achievement and, as expected, BMC Racing is delighted.
"We were definitely trying to be competitive in our approach to the world ranking," team president Jim Ochowicz said as a reaction, then pointed out that the squad as a collective has also excelled. "For the team to also be ranked (fifth) is a great performance we hope will continue throughout the year."
Last year’s race was won by Saxo Bank rider Fabian Cancellara. He has been rumoured to be moving to the BMC Racing Team for 2011, but no confirmation of his plans has been made as yet.