Evans to lead Aussie cyclists

Evans to lead Aussie cyclists
By Eurosport

25/06/2012 at 19:05Updated 25/06/2012 at 19:07

Cadel Evans will lead a strong and experienced Australia team bidding for an elusive first men's road cycling title at the London Olympics, which begin less than week after the end of the Tour de France.

Evans begins his title defence in the gruelling road racing classic in Belgium on Saturday and will have just five days from its conclusion on July 22 before the opening ceremony of the Games.

"The riders will come together the day after the Tour to prepare as a team," Australia's professional men's coordinator Matt White said.

"It will just be a matter of maintaining the form they'll have from the three weeks of racing in France."

The 35-year-old will not, however, be competing until the individual time trial on Aug. 1, where he will be looking for his first medal in his fourth Games.

Stuart O'Grady will be racing in his sixth Games having also been included in the team alongside this year's Milan-San Remo Classic winner Simon Gerrans, three-times individual time trial world champion Michael Rogers and Olympic debutant Matt Goss.

"This has been one of the most difficult team selections in Australia's cycling history because we really have enough talent to field two teams of Olympic standard," White said.

"We have more than 30 Aussie riders in the ProTour and they're major contributors to their respective teams," he added.

"It's a great position to be in and we're really pleased with the riders we'll be putting on the start line."

While Australia has enjoyed plenty of success in the velodrome, the best their male riders have managed on tarmac was Clyde Sefton's silver in the road race at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

"The selectors have chosen a team based on our race strategies for London - but we won't be going into detail about what those strategies are for obvious reasons," White added.

"What I can say is that we're definitely in the hunt to challenge for the top step of the podium."

The men's road race takes place on July 28.