Evans, Wiggins, Cavendish headline Tour de Romandie

World champion returns to racing after month-long break

GENEVA, Switzerland (AFP) — Two of the favorites for the July’s Tour France, Cadel Evans and the Bradley Wiggins, will be among the riders in Lausanne Tuesday to start the Tour de Romandie. World champion Mark Cavendish will make his return to racing this week as well.

Evans (BMC Racing), the defending champion, will try to add a third Romandie title to his palmarès six years after his first success.

“For sure it will be difficult to make the same result as last year, considering how I’ve felt in the last days,” Evans said. “With my (sinus) infection, I won’t be at the same level of competitiveness. But I hope to be there for the hardest stages. I will take it day-by-day. We will see how I feel in the first two stages, and then I will have a better idea of where my condition is.”

Evans will face other former winners, such as RadioShack-Nissan’s Andreas Klöden (2008), Astana’s Roman Kreuziger (2009), who is putting the final touches on his Giro d’Italia preparation, and Katusha’s Simon Spilak.

Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale), who has struggled this spring and admitted Monday that he may not start the Giro if he does not see positive signs in Switzerland, will be at the start in Lausanne. Vuelta a España winner Juan José Cobo (Movistar), Denis Menchov (Katusha) and Wiggins’ Sky teammate Chris Froome will also be on-hand.

World champion Mark Cavendish (Sky) will make his return to racing Tuesday following the birth of his daughter in late March.

Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) is conspicuously absent from the startlist. “Spartacus” will not resume competition for several weeks, while current world time champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), is also a scratch after suffering several broken bones in a recent car/bike collision.

The six-day race includes a downhill, 3.3km prologue and concludes Sunday with a 16.5km uphill time trial at Crans-Montana. Without Martin, Omega Pharma will go on the attack.

“It’s a really good race,” Omega Pharma director Brian Holm said. “We’re hoping we can get into some breakaways. We already know Tony Martin is out because of his accident, his crash. But this opens the door for someone else to show what they can do.”

Saturday’s decisive, 184km stage includes three Cat. 1 climbs — Col de Mosses, Veysonnaz and St. Martin — before a 24km run into Sion.