The most decorated Santos Tour Down Under stage winner on record will return to South Australia next month keen to spend more time atop the podium.
Germany’s André Greipel has been confirmed as a race starter alongside six other riders representing Belgian team Lotto Belisol.
The legendary sprinter has won 14 Santos Tour Down Under stages, including three in this year’s edition of the event, and has taken overall honours twice.
His win in stage six of the race in Adelaide on January 27 this year was also his 100th professional victory and was celebrated by more than 100,000 people who lined the city circuit.
The Lotto Belisol roster announced today includes popular Australian rider Adam Hansen, winner of stage seven at this year’s Giro d’Italia.
Powerful Belgian rider Jens Debusschere – winner of the 2013 Tour de l'Eurometropole – will also be heading to the Santos Tour Down Under.
Santos Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur said Lotto Belisol was an impressive team that performed well at races around the world.
“There’s no question André Greipel and his fellow riders mean business when they come to race here,” Mr Turtur said.
“The explosive power of these cyclists is a force to be reckoned with, and we know how much fans enjoy watching the team storm home for a sprint finish.
“The 2014 Santos Tour Down Under presents a range of challenges for the peloton, and it will be interesting to see who prevails across the mix of hills, descents and flats in store.”
André Greipel said it had become a tradition to start his cycling season in South Australia.
“In 2014 it will be my seventh attendance in a row. I won the criterium in the run-up to the stage race three times and I took 14 wins at the actual Tour Down Under,” Greipel said.
“In 2008 and 2010 I won the GC as well, so I have good memories of it. The race has become a bit tougher each year, but I see three opportunities to sprint in this edition. The aim is a stage victory.
“It will be the first time that the sprint train will be put on the rails next season and that we can put it to the test.
“We leave two weeks before the start, so we can train in the most optimal conditions. In Australia we are sure to have good weather.
“It can be very hot, but I don’t have any problems with the heat.”
The Lotto Belisol team competing at the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under will be led by team manager Herman Frison and includes riders André Greipel (GER), Adam Hansen (AUS), Jens Debusschere (BEL), Olivier Kaisen (BEL), Jurgen Roelandts (BEL), Marcel Sieberg (GER) and Stig Broeckx (BEL).
The Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 19-26 January 2014. Visit www.tourdownunder.com.au for all event information.