International cycling champion Andy Schleck will launch his 2013 season at the Santos Tour Down Under.
Minister for Tourism Gail Gago today announced Schleck would compete in next year’s event as part of the RadioShack Nissan team.
“Andy is the first confirmed rider for the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under and we are delighted to be welcoming him to race in South Australia for the first time,” Ms Gago said.
“This is very exciting news for Australian cycling fans, for South Australia and for the event.”
Race Director Mike Turtur said the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under race route would be a good match for Schleck’s proven ability as a climber.
“Next year the race will feature a number of challenging ascents, and I’m sure all fans look forward to seeing Schleck tackle climbs such as Corkscrew Road and Old Willunga Hill,” Mr Turtur said.
“There will be plenty of opportunities to see Andy in action, and we are particularly pleased he will be joining the Santos Tour Down Under as it celebrates its 15th anniversary.”
Luxembourg-born Schleck finished on the podium of his first ever Grand Tour, the Giro d’Italia, aged just 21.
He has a strong appetite for hilly classics, with victory in the gruelling Liège–Bastogne–Liège in 2009 among his career highlights to date.
The 27-year-old has delivered several years of exceptional cycling performances, including victory at the 2010 Tour de France and a remarkable win on the Col du Galibier during the same event in 2011.
“Schleck is one of the RadioShack Nissan team captains, and we are all excited to see him leading his fellow riders on Santos Tour Down Under stages,” Mr Turtur said.
“After a challenging season this year, I’m sure Andy will be eager to stamp his authority on the 2013 cycling calendar.”
Schleck said he looked forward to taking part in the southern hemisphere’s largest cycling race.
“I’m very excited to go South Australia,” Schleck said.
“I’ve heard about the race from other riders many times, and I’m very excited to see what it’s like to race in Australia.”
The 2013 Santos Tour Down Under will be held from January 20-27. Visit www.tourdownunder.com.au for more information.