Monday, 25 June 2012
Australia will boast a record number of starters in the Tour de France, with new team Orica-GreenEDGE swelling the numbers.
There will be 12 Australians on the start list in the Belgian city of Liege on Saturday, beating the 2010 mark of 11.
Orica-GreenEDGE, the first Australian team to contest the Tour, have confirmed their nine-rider line-up.
Team captain Stuart O'Grady, sprinter Matt Goss, all-rounder Simon Gerrans and domestiques Brett Lancaster and Baden Cooke made the team.
Australia cycling is enjoying a boom period and a major feature has been a much stronger presence at the Tour over the last 15 years.
The highest-profile Australian in the Tour will be defending champion Cadel Evans, the first rider from this country to win the race.
Evans' main opposition is expected to come from Brad Wiggins, who will have two Australians among his lieutenants on the Sky team.
Richie Porte and Michael Rogers will have crucial roles, backing Wiggins on the big climbs through the Alps and Pyrenees.
The pair should also feature prominently in the time trial stages.
Matt Lloyd (Lampre-ISD) will return to the Tour and is another strong climber.
Mark Renshaw (Rabobank) is one of the top sprinters in the Tour field and will aim for stage wins.
Jonathan Cantwell (Saxo Bank) is the only Australian making his Tour debut this year.
Like Adam Hansen (Lotto Belisol), Cantwell will be a domestique, or team helper.
Heinrich Haussler failed to make the final cut for Garmin's Tour team but has been listed as a reserve.
Allan Davis and Cameron Meyer are among the Orica-GreenEDGE reserves.
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