German sprint star Marcel Kittel will be looking for more success on Australian soil when he leads the new-look Giant Alpecin team at next month’s Santos Tour Down Under.
Tourism Minister Leon Bignell today announced the eight-time Tour de France stage winner would return to the southern hemisphere’s largest cycling event for the third consecutive year.
“Marcel is a crowd favourite whose blistering sprint finishes have to be seen to be believed,” he said.
“He made a huge impact here earlier this year, winning the People’s Choice Classic in emphatic style before going on to claim victories in both the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.”
Marcel Kittel said the Santos Tour Down Under was a perfect way to start the 2015 season.
“It’s a nice way for me to start the season and to find my legs again after the winter training. Adelaide is a beautiful place,” he said.
“Even if there aren’t too many opportunities for sprinters, the race is still part of my build up to the season and in combination with the idea race conditions it is an ideal start to the year. I will go for any opportunities I have but I’ll also be supporting the strong team that we have here and our other goals. It will be nice to race with our new sponsor Alpecin on the jersey.”
Rising Dutch star Tom Dumoulin, who’ll be making his Santos Tour Don Under debut, said although he hadn’t raced the event before, he had good memories of racing in Australia at the World Championships in Geelong.
“It is completely different country to what I am used to but a nice way to get the season underway, and the start of my detailed race program we have made with the coaches,” he said.
“We have a good team here and I am looking to test myself for the GC, but despite it being an early target I can come to this race without any pressure and see how the legs respond to the hard racing.”
The Santos Tour Down Under will be Giant Alpecin’s first UCI WorldTour event under its new name, and fans in South Australia will have an exclusive look at the new team kit.
Minister Bignell said the 26-year-old Kittel would be eager to test his legs in the 2015 People’s Choice Classic, which will return to Adelaide’s East End.
“We also look forward to seeing him in action on the final day of racing – Be Safe Be Seen MAC Stage 6 – which will start and finish on King William Rd and promises a thrilling finale to the event.”
Also joining the team will be Koen de Kort, a Dutch all-rounder who has spent many months in Australia and is known as an honorary local. The team will also feature US rising star Gregory Craddock, who finished third in this year’s Tour of California and took out that event’s young rider classification.
The Giant Alpecin team competing at the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under will be led by manager Addy Engels and will also include Simon Geschke (Germany), Albert Timmer (The Netherlands), and Chad Hager (USA).
The 2015 Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from January 17 to 25.
Visit www.tourdownunder.com.au for all event information.