In case there was any doubt, the US-based teams of Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde and Mark Cavendish will compete in the Tour de France this year.
Organizers of the Tour de France named four US-based pro cycling teams among the 22 chosen. HTC-Columbia had an automatic invitation; Team RadioShack, BMC Racing, and Garmin-Transitions were all invited as wild cards.
Although the teams are by no means exclusively manned by American cyclists, it does mean the US will be well-represented when the three-week race rolls out in the Netherlands on July 3. The bike race ends in Paris on July 25.
Other wild card teams invited to the race are Team Sky, Katusha, and Cervelo TestTeam.
HTC-Columbia received the automatic bid because it was ranked in the top 17 from the previous year.
Even though there are four US-based cycling teams invited, it's unknown how many Americans will be racing at the Tour.
HTC-Columbia, for instance, only has two US riders on its roster — Craig Lewis and Tejay Van Garderen. The big names on that team include Cavendish (UK), Bernard Eisel (Austria), Andre Greipel (Germany) and Marco Pinotti (Italy).
The invitation of Team RadioShack ensures Armstrong can ride in the race. Other cyclists with deep Tour de France experience include Americans Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer and Jason McCartney, as well as Andreas Kloden (Germany) and Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine).
The return of Team Garmin-Transitions to the peloton gives Vande Velde another shot at the podium; he finished fourth in 2008. It also gives time trial specialist Dave Zabriskie a shot at a stage win (he's a former yellow jersey holder), and Tyler Farrar a chance at winning sprint stage at the Tour. Scottish cyclist David Millar (also a former yellow jersey wearer) gives the team lots of Tour de France experience.
BMC Racing's entry into the Tour could open the door to first-time appearances for several Americans, such as Jeff Louder and Brent Bookwalter. The team is led by Australia's world champion Cadel Evans and US's George Hincapie, who has more Tour de France appearances — 14 — than any other rider in the peloton.
The 22 teams
Omega Pharma – Lotto
Team Saxo Bank
Euskaltel – Euskadi
Footon – Servetto
AG2R La Mondiale
BBox Bouygues Telecom
Cofidis, le Crédit en ligne
Française des Jeux
Lampre – Farnese
Liquigas – Doimo
BMC Racing Team
Cervélo Test Team