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Hunter in the hot seat at Tour de France

South African Robbie Hunter has been named in the Garmin-Transition team for the gruelling Tour de France cycle race next month.

Once again, Americans Christian Vande Velde and Tyler Farrar are the leaders of team squad.

Cyclingnews reports that Vande Velde, who finished fourth in 2008 and eighth overall last year will be backed in the GC (general classification) by a strong group of Grand Tour veterans, while Farrar will have a powerful lead-out train for the sprint stages.

Farrar, winner of five races this season including two stages of the Giro d’Italia will be looking to gain his first Tour stage win with the help of Julian Dean, Hunter (a previous Tour de France stage winner) and Martijn Maaskant.

David Millar, Ryder Hesjedal, David Zabriskie and Johan Van Summeren will be the key riders to help Vande Velde when the road climbs upward and in pursuit of a place on the final podium in Paris.

ÔÇ£We are bringing a strong, versatile squad to the 2010 Tour de France,ÔÇØ said team manager Jonathan Vaughters.┬á “The team is motivated and ready and will be sure to animate what will be an incredibly competitive Tour de France.ÔÇØ

Noticeably absent from the list are Danny Pate, who was on last year’s Tour squad, Dan Martin, Svein Tuft and Tom Danielson – all strong Grand Tour riders who have yet to make their Tour de France debut.

ÔÇ£With so many riders going so well all season, selecting the Tour team was difficult,ÔÇØ said the team’s director sportif Matt White.

ÔÇ£But we knew we needed a squad that could support Christian for the overall, Tyler in the sprint stages, and also be on the lookout for other opportunities. We’ve certainly found the right mix in this group and I have a lot of faith in these athletes.ÔÇØ

The Garmin-Transition line-up: Julian Dean (NZL), Tyler Farrar (US), Ryder Hesjedal (CAN), Robbie Hunter (SA), Martijn Maaskant (NED), David Millar (GBR), Johan Van Summeren (BEL), Christian Vande Velde (USA), David Zabriskie (US)