By Nigel Wynn
Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation has announced the list of 20 teams selected to take part in this year's race in July.
There are no major surprises on the list. One omission is the Fuji-Servetto team - the squad formerly known as Saunier Duval. It's no great shock that ASO have not sent an invite to the outfit given that Saunier's Leonardo Piepoli and Riccardo Ricco both failed tests for banned blood booster CERA (EPO) during the 2008 event.
As expected, another omission is the Barloworld squad, home of British riders Geraint Thomas, Steve Cummings and Chris Froome.
However, Britain should be well represented at the Tour with the teams of David Millar, Bradley Wiggins (Garmin-Slipstream), Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad), Charly Wegelius (Silence-Lotto), Roger Hammond, Daniel Lloyd, Jeremy Hunt and Daniel Fleeman (Cervelo Test Team) all present.
Cavendish was the sprint sensation of last year's Tour, winning no less than four stages in the race. Can he better that tally at this year's event?
Making a return to the race is the Astana squad - home now of Tour de France winners Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador. The team was not invited last year due to its involvement in doping scandals during the 2007 Tour that saw the entire squad ejected from the race.
It is no surprise that France is the most represented nation, with five teams invited to the start line in Monaco on Saturday, July 4. The race finishes three weeks later in Paris on Sunday, July 26.
Each squad consists of nine riders, bringing the total number of participants in the race to 180.
Team Saxo Bank
Team Columbia-High Road
BBox Bouygues Telecom
Cofidis, Le Crédit en Ligne
Française des Jeux
Cervelo Test Team
|TOUR DE FRANCE 2009 LINKS|
2009 Tour de France: The route
Brits in the 2009 Tour de France
Tour de France 2009: Week-by-week guide
Tour spectators' guide
9 reasons why Mont Ventoux is a symbolic climb
Analysis: Mont Ventoux to decide the Tour
Inside the Tour: 2009 race by numbers
Etape du Tour 2009: It's the Ventoux
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