SYDNEY, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans will race on home soil for the first time since he won the French classic next January after confirming his participation in the Tour Down Under.
The 36-year-old BMC rider was the first Australian to win road cycling's most prestigious event and returns to the event in South Australia for the first time since his eighth appearance in 2010.
Evans has decided to focus on the Giro d'Italia this year after finishing 39th in the Tour de France in 2013, two years after cycling up the Champs Elysee in the yellow jersey.
"With my focus on the Giro d'Italia, everything comes earlier in the year," Evans, who finished third in the Giro last year, said in a statement.
"There is also the team's desire to get the season off to a good start. I think with a bit harder course this year, it would be realistic to go for the overall win.
"I haven't been able to race there since 2010 because I've always been working toward the Tour de France.
"But with me going for the Giro, it gives me the opportunity to race in Australia and at the race which has become the real season start and the meeting point for the world of cycling at the beginning of the year.
"So it will be something special, especially racing in front of the home crowd."
The Tour Down Under will be held in and around Adelaide from 19-26 January.
"This will be the first time that Australian cycling fans have seen Cadel race on home soil since his historic 2011 Tour de France win," said race director Mike Turtur said.
"He's one of our greatest riders of all time, our only Tour de France winner and road world champion. I've always admired his respect and commitment to the sport and his total commitment to suffer during races." (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Larry Fine)