New dad Richie Porte ramps up his Tour de France preparations when he makes his Tour de Suisse debut at the 9-17 June race.
The Australian rider will have a strong BMC team behind him after he significantly changed his pre-Tour de France race schedule this year because his wife Gemma was pregnant with their first child. They became parents in the past few days.
Compatriot Simon Gerrans, American Tejay Van Garderen and Belgian Greg van Avermaet are also in the BMC team for the Swiss race.
"This year, with the change in calendar, the Tour de Suisse was a good fit for my Tour de France preparation and I think the nine stages will give us a good indication of my form," Porte said. "I like the look of the race and I think the team time trial will be a good way to get things started."
The Tasmanian has had mixed fortunes this season in Europe, with illness two months ago interrupting his race schedule. But he finished third overall in late April at the Tour de Romandie.
"I'm feeling good and have put a few solid weeks of training in since Tour de Romandie, so I hope to continue my good results," he said.
"We definitely have one of the strongest teams, so I'm looking forward to what I'm sure will be an aggressive race, and hope to come out of it with a lot of confidence before we turn our attention to the Tour de France."
Porte, 33, who suffered serious injuries when he crashed out of last year's Tour de France, will be one of the favourites again in this year's 7-29 July edition.
"Richie is motivated and has been training well since the Tour de Romandie so we are looking forward to seeing how he goes, BMC team director Fabio Baldato said.
"We know that Tejay van Garderen is in good shape after California, as is Alessandro De Marchi, who is coming from the Giro d'Italia, and Simon Gerrans, who showed good form at Hammer Limburg, so these three riders will be there to support Richie on the key General Classification days."
BMC for the Tour de Suisse: Alessandro De Marchi (ITA), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Stefan Kung (SUI), Richie Porte (AUS), Michael Schär (SUI), Greg Van Avermaet (BEL), Tejay van Garderen (USA).
SBS will broadcast and stream all stages of the 7-29 July 2018 Tour de France live and free in HD. Details TBA.