Defending Santos Tour Down Under champion Simon Gerrans will return to the streets of South Australia this month with a strong ORICA-GreenEDGE team.
The 32-year-old is looking to add a third Santos Tour Down Under victory to his impressive list of achievements, which last year included winning the Milan-San Remo and becoming national road race champion.
Gerrans will be joined on the ORICA-GreenEDGE team by local favourite Stuart O’Grady, who won the inaugural Santos Tour Down Under in 1999.
Fellow Australian riders Luke Durbridge, Matthew Goss and Simon Clarke also feature on the team roster.
Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur said Gerrans’ victory at the race last year gave ORICA-GreenEDGE a dream start on the international stage.
“Winning the only UCI WorldTour event in the southern hemisphere is something all teams want, and to secure victory on debut is even sweeter,” Mr Turtur said.
“It’s fantastic to have such an impressive line-up of Australian talent return as we celebrate 15 years of this great race.”
Luke Durbridge has demonstrated incredible form with three early season wins. His aggressive, repeated attacks on the second day of racing at the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic netted him a win in Portarlington. The following week he successfully defended his national time trial title in Ballarat before claiming the national road title in Buninyong yesterday.
In a race that can often cater to fast finishes, Goss provides ORICA-GreenEDGE with the most obvious option to open the season with a WorldTour win according to the team.
“We’re bringing a strong team, and we’re hoping to pick up a stage win,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson.
“Gerrans has free reign to have a crack at the overall. Last year, winning the Santos Tour Down Under felt essential. This year, we’re taking a different approach. Wins at the Tour Down Under are now one of many goals for our second season.”
“On the days where it’s a sprinter’s race, Gossy will be there,” said Wilson.
“He’s a past stage winner at the Santos Tour Down Under and has finished high up on the overall classification in previous years. He’s our man for the sprints.”
Gerrans, O’Grady and Germany’s André Greipel are the only three cyclists to have won the Santos Tour Down Under twice.
“All three riders will be competing in the event, and cycling fans can look forward to plenty of close battles to the finish line,” Mr Turtur said.
The ORICA-GreenEDGE team for the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under will be led by Team Manager Matt Wilson and includes riders Simon Gerrans (AUS), Luke Durbridge (AUS), Matthew Goss (AUS), Daryl Impey (RSA), Simon Clarke (AUS), Jens Mouris (NED) and Stuart O’Grady (AUS).
The Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 20-27 January 2013.