The teams of reigning Tour de France champion Cadel Evans and three-time Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer were among 16 squads named on Tuesday to ride in this year's Tour of California.
While world-class team entries were announced, exact rosters were not named for the stage race, which begins on May 13 in Santa Rosa and concludes on May 20 in downtown Los Angeles after covering more than 750 miles.
The event, which began in 2006, will serve as preparation for competitors in this year's London Olympics, as well as the Tour de France.
"These 16 teams represent the most prestigious field of talent ever to compete in our race and we are honored to have them join us for the seventh Tour of California," executive race director Kristin Bachochin said.
Eight International Cycling Union pro teams were included in the field, including BMC Racing, which features Australian star Evans and American George Hincapie, and US star Leipheimer's new top-rated team, Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
Defending champion Chris Horner and Jens Voigt pace RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, while the Dutch Rabobank team has Laurens Den Tam and Luis Leon Sanchez and Italy's Liquigas-Cannondale has California stage winner Peter Sagan.
"This year's event looks to be the best ever, with an even more challenging route and 16 of the best teams in the world," US rider Horner said. "I'm looking forward to coming back to defend my title."
The new Australian GreenEDGE team, with Australian veteran Robbie McEwen in his final season, and French squad AG2R La Mondiale, with Nicolas Roche and Rinaldo Nocentini, are also among the top-level entrants.
"Having it as Robbie McEwen's last race (in California) will make it extra special for us as an Australian team," said GreenEDGE general manager Shayne Bannan.
"It's real priority for us to bring a strong team to California and the riders really want to go there and make their mark."
Source: AFP Global Edition