Evans to return at Oman, Pellizotti at Tour Med

Pellizotti eyes Giro return after opening season at Tour Mediterranean

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Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) and Franco Pellizotti (Androni) will be making two very different types of comebacks in 2013.

Both have announced their opening races to debut the coming season, with Evans eyeing the Tour of Oman and Pellizotti confirmed for the Tour Mediterranean.

Evans, after an illness-plagued season that saw him fall short, at seventh overall, in his Tour de France defense, will likely make his season debut at the Tour of Oman (February 12-17).

Evans told the Sydney Morning Herald’s Rupert Guinness that he expects to be back in fighting form this season.

“Because of some of the health issues I had last year, I have to see how my body responds to heavy training and racing before I can be sure,” Evans said. “I may start the Tour of Oman or some of the smaller Italian races.”

Evans and Tejay van Garderen, fifth at the Tour last year and winner of the best young rider’s jersey, are expected to share leadership at BMC Racing this season.

Pellizotti, meanwhile, will be looking to ride through a full season following his controversial doping ban for irregular numbers in his biological passport.

Pellizotti, 35 next week, was banned two years and saw his results from the 2009 season, which included a stage win and third at the Giro d’Italia as well as the king of the mountains jersey at the Tour de France, wiped clean.

The Italian protested his innocence of blood manipulation and challenged the UCI ban to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and lost, seen by many as an important endorsement of the biological passport not only as a deterrent but also as a tool for enforcing racing bans.

With his trademark blonde curls shorn off, Pellizotti returned to racing last June with Androni Giocattoli and quickly won the Italian road national championship and finished fourth at the Tour of Burgos and third at Giro dell’Emilia.

Androni officials announced Monday that Pellizotti would headline the team’s eight-man roster at the Tour Med, set for February 6-10 along France’s Cote d’Azur.

Androni is expected to receive one of four wildcard invitations to start the 2013 Giro d’Italia on Tuesday. For Pellizotti, returning to the Giro in top condition will be his top goal for the first half of the year.