Belgian cycling talent Thomas De Gendt will return to the Santos Tour Down Under for a third consecutive year as he works to build on stellar recent performances.
The 26-year-old Giro d’Italia stage winner is among members of the Vacansoleil-DCM line-up announced today, with Kenny Van Hummel and Wesley Kreder also set to appear.
Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur said De Gendt had shown impressive form during the 2012 season, with an overall third place finish in the Giro d’Italia.
“The Giro d’Italia challenges every rider, and De Gendt really came into his own on the penultimate stage at the Stelvio Pass,” Mr Turtur said.
“Couple that with a win on stage seven of Paris-Nice and you have a rider on the rise who will be keen to dominate in 2013.”
De Gendt knows what to expect in Adelaide and its surrounding regions.
“It will be the third year in a row for me to race over there and that shows that I like it,” he said.
“Like every year the shape is always a surprise in the first race but it should be good to kick off the season with someone of the team in front.”
De Gendt, who also found time in 2012 to get married and claim third place in the Amstel Curaçao Race, said he was eager to improve.
“I feel like training again and one of my goals is to peak more and more,” he said.
“After 2012 I will have a challenge to be a leader in a mental way at certain moments during the season where others have to count on me.”
Team Manager Johannes Van Poppel has an affinity with Australia, travelling here to compete as a rider and always sees the trip here as a welcome return.
“We are aiming for a good overall general classification with any number of our riders. De Gendt, Marczynski or Valls all have the ability to make an impact on the race.”
The Vacansoleil-DCM team for the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under will be led by Team Manager Johannes Van Poppel (NED) and includes riders Thomas De Gendt (BEL), Kenny Van Hummel (NED), Barry Markus (NED), Rafael Valls Ferri (ESP), Tomasz Marczynski (POL), Wesley Kreder (NED) and the seventh rider still to be announced.
The Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 20-27 January 2013. Visit the Santos Tour Down Under website for more information.