Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong will go head-to-head with Australia’s world champion Cadel Evans in the Tour Down Under in January.
The American has always indicated his enthusiasm to return to the Adelaide race in 2010 after launching his comeback to the professional peleton at this year’s event.
But now his new RadioShack team has confirmed he will lead the squad at the first Pro Tour event of the season.
Evans, who recently won the world road race championship, is also set to ride with his new BMC Racing team granted a wildcard entry.
Team RadioShack boss Johan Bruyneel revealed the seven riders to compete on his Facebook page on Thursday after running a competition among followers to guess the squad.
Tour organisers later confirmed the line-up.
As well as the seven-time Tour de France champion, it includes one of Armstrong’s most trusted lieutenants during his tour campaigns in Yaroslav Popovych.
Experienced riders Jason McCartney and Gert Steegmans, a Tour de France stage winner, are also in the group.
The other riders named are Daryl Impey, Sebastien Rosseler and Tomas Vaitkus.
Team RadioShack will prepare for the Tour Down Under with a training camp in Tucson, Arizona this month, with Bruyneel no doubt mindful of the hot conditions that could greet the riders in Adelaide.
Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur said Armstrong’s confirmed return would be great for the race.
“He is a real legend of the sport and it’s been massive for our race that he made his cycling comeback here in 2009 and will debut team RadioShack here in 2010,” Turtur said.
“While much of the media focus will be on Armstrong, he will be joined by a very strong RadioShack team who are all great riders in their own right.”
Turtur said Popovych and Steegmans would be key figures.
“Popovych has been a loyal servant of Armstrong’s at Discovery Channel and Astana and is a very capable rider himself,” he said.
“Our race gives him an opportunity to do well and will also suit Steegmans’ sprinting skills.”
Popovych won the young rider classification of the 2005 Tour de France and a stage of the 2006 event.
Steegmans is a two-time stage winner of the Tour de France, including the prestigious final stage on the Champs-Elysees in 2008.
Team RadioShack will be managed by Alain Gallopin in Adelaide but organisers said Bruyneel, who engineered all Armstrong’s Tour de France victories, would also attend the event from January 17-24.