Team Columbia, formerly High Road, have confirmed that Mark Cavendish will take part in the Tour de France this summer.
Hopes are high that Cavendish will build on his current successes that include the Madison world title and seven wins on the road, including two stages in the Tour of Italy.
Cavendish can count on strong support, with Australian time trial champion Adam Hansen, American veteran George Hincapie, Austrian Bernhard Eisel and former Ghent-Wevelgem winner Marcus Burghardt all in the line-up.
German fastman Gerald Ciolek will also be racing. After a slowish start to the season, the 21-year-old Ciolek has since won a couple of stages in the Tour of Bayern and then took part in the Tour of Switzerland.
As both Linus Gerdemann, injured and Michael Rogers who is still recovering from a virus, (although he recently finished 11th at the Dauphiné Libéré) are out for the count, Columbia?s GC options are limited to Luxembourg?s Kim Kirchen.
Seventh in last year?s Tour, the Flèche Wallonne 2008 winner recently took a mountain top stage win and led the Tour of Switzerland before cracking in the final mountain time trial.
With Canadian climber Michael Barry not making the team, Kirchen?s support in the mountains will be based almost 100 percent on Kanstantin Sivstov, the Belorussian who outwitted the local riders in the Tour of Georgia on the Brasstown Bald mountain summit for a strong win.
The team?s road captain will be, predictably, Hincapie. The 34-year-old American has started every Tour since 1996 and only failed to finish one. He was the only rider to make the cut into every one of Lance Armstrong?s Tour winning teams during the Texan?s run of seven straight wins.
Team Columbia for Tour de France: Marcus Burghardt (Ger), Mark Cavendish (GB), Gerald Ciolek (Ger), Bernhard Eisel (Aut), Adam Hansen (Aus), Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg), George Hincapie (USA), Thomas Lovkvist (Sweden), Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Belorussia)
Cavendish: Four realistic chances for me in first week
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2008: GUIDE|