Lance Armstrong will have most of last year's team back when he goes for his seventh straight Tour de France victory.
Armstrong's Discovery Channel team features six returning cyclists, including American George Hincapie, and two new ones, Italy's Paolo Savoldelli and Ukrainian Yaroslav Popovych, it was announced yesterday.
Armstrong, 33, said he will retire after this year's Tour, which starts July 2.
"I think we have fielded our strongest team ever with this formation," said Armstrong, who is in Spain training for the race. "I'm more motivated than ever."
Armstrong's other teammates from last year are Spain's Jose Luis Rubiera, Manuel Beltran and Benjamin Noval, the Czech Republic's Pavel Padrnos and Portugal's Jose Azevedo. Savoldelli has won the Tour of Italy twice and Popovych finished third in 2003.
Armstrong called Rubiera, Beltran and Noval the "Spanish armada" to help him in the mountains.
Hincapie has raced with Armstrong in all six of his Tour victories, and several others have been on board for two or more.
"I wanted an experienced team for Lance's last Tour and that was the determining factor," Discovery Channel Manager Johan Bruyneel said. "I want him to be surrounded by guys who have always been around him.
"I think we have guys for everywhere -- the flats, those that will work in the hard stages and guys for the mountains."
The team is missing Viatcheslav Ekimov, who rode with Armstrong to five Tour victories but injured his back in a training accident in April.
-- From News Services