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Bookwalter, Burghardt among BMC re-signings

Bookwalter celebrates Evans' Tour victory. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

American Brent Bookwalter and classics lynchpin Marcus Burghardt are among Cadel Evans’ support staff to re-sign with BMC Racing for 2012.

Bookwalter, Marcus Burghardt, Steve Morabito, Manuel Quinziato and Michael Schär were each members of Cadel Evans’ backup cast in the Tour de France this year and will return in 2012.

“These riders performed brilliantly throughout the 2011 season and played a major role in Cadel’s victory at this year’s Tour de France,” said team president Jim Ochowicz. “We look forward to their continued dedication and performance within the BMC Racing Team family.”

Also returning will be Swiss TT champion Martin Kohler and Mathias Frank.

“As young riders, they continue to show improvement each year in their physical abilities and race experience,” said Ochowicz.

The team did not release details of the riders’ contracts.

Tour winner Evans renewed his contract with BMC Racing through 2014 in early August. World champion Thor Hushovd will also join the squad at the beginning of the year and team up with George Hincapie — who returns on a one-year deal for 2012 — and Burghardt as key components of the team’s classics squad.

Philippe Gilbert, winner of all three Ardennes classics this spring – and the Tour’s opening stage and the post-tour Clásica San Sebastián – has been linked in talks with BMC after his Omega Pharma-Lotto team restructured to join forces with Quick Step. Gilbert’s agent, Vincent Wathelet, has been quoted in Belgian papers as saying his star client has narrowed his choices to re-joining the new Omega Pharma squad or moving to BMC Racing.

Hushovd is the only rider announced by the team as a new signing since the UCI transfer period began August 1. Many teams require riders to keep negotiations private until September 1 and BMC Racing is expected to make additional announcements as that date nears.