Levi Leipheimer heads up Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s nine-man Tour de France roster, announced on Wednesday afternoon.
Leipheimer finished in third place overall at the Tour de Suisse, which finished on Sunday. Although he put in a below-par performance in Friday’s individual time trial that saw him finish in 17th spot, his solid riding in the mountains on Saturday and Sunday propelled him onto the podium.
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The 38 year old’s early season suffered a major setback after he broke his leg as a result of being hit by a car whilst out training in Spain in April. Now he appears to have fully recovered and come into form just in time for the Tour.
Leipheimer will be accompanied by Sylvain Chavanel (Fra), Dries Devenyns (Bel), Kevin De Weert (Bel), Bert Grabsch (Ger), Tony Martin (Ger), Jerome Pineau (Fra), Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) and Peter Velits (Svk).
Missing from the list is classics king Tom Boonen, who will skip the race to prepare for the Olympic Games road race on July 28.
Martin, Grabsch and Chavanel should all figure in the race’s individual time trials. World time trial champion Martin was second to Bradley Wiggins in the 53.5km Criterium du Dauphine time trial – the same distance as the Tour’s final test against the clock. Triple Tour de France stage winner Chavanel placed fifth, and is also a sure bet to be in the mix on stages that favour attacks.
Velits will be another option for a high overall position. The 27-year-old Slovak finished last year’s Tour in 19th place overall, was second overall in the 2010 Vuelta a Espana and won the Tour of Oman earlier this year.
The 2012 Tour de France starts in Liege, Belgium, on Saturday June 30 and finishes three weeks later in Paris on July 22.