The 12 include world champion Philippe Gilbert of the BMC team, Jan Bakelants and Maxime Monfort of RadioShack, Kris Boeckmans and Thomas De Gendt of Vacansoleil and Sep Vanmarcke and Maarten Wynants of Blanco, the former Dutch Rabobank team which is now called Belkin after the new sponsor.
The two Belgian teams at the start provide the other Belgian riders: Omega Pharma-Quickstep is sending Gert Steegmans to Corsica, while Lotto-Belisol opted for Bart De Clercq, Jurgen Roelandts, Jurgen Van den Broeck and Frederik Willems.
Finally 3rd in Paris?
After two 4th places in Paris, Jurgen Van den Broeck aims for third place. It's his dream to be on the podium in Paris. The Belgian worked very hard to be ready, although his preparation was disturbed by physical woes in the Dauphiné. Van den Broeck, dubbed VDB in the Belgian press, can count on the help of different team mates and will have to make the difference in the mountains. Individual time trials are not his cup of tea, although he improved a lot the past years.
When things go fast, Steegmans is ready
Gert Steegmans, a former sprinter himself, has a crucial task in the Quickstep team, as he will be the last man in the lead-out train for Mark Cavendish when the final bunch sprint is being prepared. 32-year-old Steegmans and his team mates could steer Cavendish to an immediate success in the opening stage on Corsica, which would earn Cavendish both the green and the coveted yellow leader's jersey.
A Belgian win on Alpe d'Huez?
Thomas De Gendt of Vacansoleil showed he has a lot of potential by taking 3rd place in last year's Giro d'Italia. He is free to try and grab a stage victory. "Alpe d'Huez is my cup of tea", the East-Fleming was quoted as saying. De Gendt won the prestigious stage on the Stelvio in the Giro, and showed he has potential. "If the legs are good, I can compete with the rest."
Philippe Gilbert: "No personal ambition"
Philippe Gilbert wants to make up for his poor first half of the year. Wearing the rainbow jersey, he had probably hoped for more. The classic spring season didn't bring him one single victory. A stage win in the world's most important stage race could make up for this. However, Gilbert claims that he was picked to help his team mates Cadel Evans and Tejay Van Garderen in the general classification. "I start to help others, but of course it will be special to ride the 100th edition of the Tour de France", he denied any personal ambition.