Evans to test form at Tirreno-Adriatico
Cadel Evans will defend his Tirreno-Adriatico title as he seeks to gain form and fitness ahead of the Tour de France.
The BMC rider won the Italian ProTour race last year before taking Le Tour and the Australian hopes his first stage race of the season provides a good gauge of his progress.
"My first goal is to see how my fitness is," Evans said.
"I've worked reasonably well toward it. To repeat last year's result here would be an ultimate gauge of my fitness. But we'll first test my fitness and then see the result."
The seven-day race begins on the Tuscan coast on Wednesday with a 16.9km team time trial and ends with a 9.3km individual time trial on the Adriatic coast.
There are two stages for sprinters, two hilly stages and a mountain finish at Prati di Tivo which Evans says will be a key moment in the race.
"It makes it a real climber's race because it's a long climb, maybe 15 kilometres," Evans said.
"That's going to change the race from last year a lot and be one of the most important days for the general classification."
Evans will face strong competition from Italians Vincenzo Nibali, Michele Scarponi and Stefano Garzelli, Roman Kreuziger of the Czech Republic, Slovakia’s Peter Velits, Rafal Majka of Poland, Joaquin Rodriguez of Spain and Sweden’s Thomas Lovkvist will also challenge.
The sprint stages will be a battle between the fastest finishers in the sport. World champion Mark Cavendish will face Matthew Goss, Oscar Freire, Tyler Farrar, Alessandro Petacchi, Andrč Greipel, Gerald Ciolek, Daniele Bennati and Peter Sagan.
Most wins - Riders
6 Roger De Vlaeminck BEL 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977
2 Francesco Moser ITA 1980, 1981
2 Giuseppe Saronni ITA 1978, 1982
2 Toni Rominger SUI 1989, 1990
2 Rolf Sřrensen DEN 1987, 1992
Most wins - Countries
Last 10 podiums
2011 Cadel Evans (AUS) Robert Gesink (NED) Michele Scarponi (ITA)
2010 Stefano Garzelli (ITA) Michele Scarponi (ITA) Cadel Evans (AUS)
2009 Michele Scarponi (ITA) Stefano Garzelli (ITA) Andreas Klöden (GER)
2008 Fabian Cancellara (SUI) Enrico Gasparotto (ITA) Thomas Löfkvist (SWE)
2007 Andreas Klöden (GER) Kim Kirchen (LUX) Alexandr Vinokurov (KAZ)
2005 Óscar Freire (ESP) Alessandro Petacchi (ITA) Fabrizio Guidi (ITA)
2002 Erik Dekker (NED) Danilo Di Luca (ITA) Óscar Freire (ESP)