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Teams Ready For Season Debut at Santos Tour Down Under
By Sam Jackson
Date: 1/13/2013
Teams Ready For Season Debut at Santos Tour Down Under
The six stage 2013 Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from the 20th – 27th January 2013. On Sunday 20th, the teams will contest an exciting 51km circuit race as the curtain raiser, before the Tour itself gets underway. Sprinter Marcel Kittel will lead Argos-Shimano as they make their UCI WorldTour debut at this month’s race. The 24-year-old German enjoyed a strong 2012 season claiming more than a dozen wins including the Scheldeprijs classic, two stages of the Eneco Tour and stages of the Tours of Oman and Circuit Franco-Belge.

Argos-Shimano Team Manager Iwan Spekenbrink, who will lead the team at the race, sees the Tour Down Under as an important race with good opportunities for his team. “A strong group of riders will represent our team in Australia and they can form a good sprint train to lead out our sprinter (Kittel),” Spekenbrink explained. “Two of our riders have a special connection with Australia and want to impress the thousands of fans. Will Clarke comes from Australia and won a stage of last year’s Santos Tour Down Under and Koen de Kort, whose girlfriend is Australian, has stayed in Australia during the European winter for many years now. Both riders have special sentiments for the Santos Tour Down Under.”

Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur says South African time trial champion Reinardt Janse van Rensburg is another rider poised to make his mark in the first UCI WorldTour event of the year. “Van Rensburg is a new addition to the Argos-Shimano roster and can certainly produce plenty of power on demand,” said Turtur. “This month’s race route features stages to suit sprinters and all-rounders, and we’re expecting close finishes as the world’s top riders battle for points in 2013.” The Argos-Shimano team for the Tour Down Under consists of the following riders:

Jonas Ahlstrand (SWE)
William Clarke (AUS)
Yann Huguet (FRA)
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (RSA)
Marcel Kittel (GER)
Koen de Kort (NED)
Albert Timmer (NED)

Meanwhile, Danish climber Chris Anker Sørensen will lead Team Saxo-Tinkoff’s charge. Sørensen placed 14th overall and took most aggressive rider honours at last year’s Tour de France, whilst he also won the mountains classification at the Volta a Catalunya. Sørensen is looking forward to his race debut, and is expected to be amongst the contenders when the race heads into the hills, with the Stage 5 summit finish at Old Willunga Hill expected to be a key battleground for those with GC aspirations.

"This is my first time at the Santos Tour Down Under and, from what I have been told by other riders, this is a fantastic race so I'm really looking forward to pinning a number on my back and getting off to a good start to the new season,” said the Dane. “I don't exactly know my form, but I feel pretty strong despite a break, and I'm definitely going there to try to make something happen."

Saxo-Tinkoff, who recently added Steven de Jongh to their Staff as a Directeur Sportif, after he left Team Sky last season having acknowledged the use of EPO during his career, will be led by Team Manager Fabrizio Guidi at the Tour Down Under. Their roster includes:

Chris Anker Sørensen (DEN)
Christopher Juul-Jensen (DEN)
Takashi Miyazawa (JPN)
Jay McCarthy (AUS)
Jonathan Cantwell (AUS)
Manuele Boaro (ITA)
Timothy Duggan (USA)

Veteran German all-rounder Jens Voigt is heading to Adelaide to commence his 17th season as a pro, racing for the RadioShack Leopard Trek team who have their team presentation for the riders not competing in the race on January 18th in Alicante. “Ten years ago, in my Crédit Agricole days, I did my first Tour Down Under and I was immediately charmed by the race,” said Voigt. “It is a nice race, well organised, hard and challenging, but not too hard and that is just what we need at this time of the year. It’s just perfect and well balanced, that’s why I like to come to Adelaide. The fact that we can stay a week long in the same hotel makes it comfortable for us, the transfers are not too long, and most important of all, the fans are great,” said Voigt. “The crowds are enthusiastic and they are in great numbers at all stages.”

The RadioShack Leopard Trek team for the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under will be led by Team Director José Azevedo and includes the following riders, with Andy Schleck making his Tour Down Under debut:

George Bennett (NZL)
Laurent Didier (LUX)
Ben Hermans (BEL)
Tiago Machado (POR)
Andy Schleck (LUX)
Jesse Sergent (NZL)
Jens Voigt (GER)

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