GreenEDGE, Australia’s first WorldTour team, will begin their campaign at their home race in January with an all-Australian line-up for the Tour Down Under.
The new team, backed by Australian businessman, Gerry Ryan, managed by former national cycle sport director, Shane Bannan, and featuring the cream of Antipodean cycling talent, will make their competitive debut in Adelaide on Sunday January 15.
Bannan said the team’s roster, which includes the defending Tour Down Under champion among three former winners, was a statement of their intentions.
“We’re obviously really proud to have such a great line-up for our first race on the WorldTour. Having our debut in Australia is exciting. It’s a race that has gone from strength to strength over the last years.
“We are trying to honour that by bringing a really competitive roster. It will be a hard race, but we have a good chance to put GreenEDGE on the map in our first big, international competition,” he said.
The team will be led in Australia by defending champion, Cameron Meyer, who sealed his overall victory last year by winning the fourth stage after joining a decisive breakaway.
GreenEDGE will also field last year’s runner-up, Matt Goss, winner of this year’s Milan-San Remo, and 2006 Tour Down Under champion, Simon Gerrans.
The inclusion of 1999 and 2001 winner, Stuart O’Grady, introduces a fascinating sub-plot as the Australian goes head-to-head with sprint star, Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), in the battle for a record breaking third overall win. The German rider won the Tour Down Under in 2008 and 2010.
Veteran sprinter, Robbie McEwan, could provide competition for Greipel in a race heavy with sprinting talent, including Daniele Bennati of Radioshack-Nissan-Trek, Katusha’s three-time world champion, Oscar Friere, and BMC’s Alessandro Ballan, world champion in 2008.
GreenEDGE’s younger talents include Australian road race champion, Jack Bobridge, and world madison champion, Leigh Howard, who will ride in support of his track partner, Meyer.
The Australian team gained its WorldTour licence earlier this month. Its Tour Down Under squad will be managed by another Australian, Mat White.
Race Director, Mike Turtur, said the inclusion of the GreenEDGE team in the race was a milestone for Australian cycling.
“GreenEDGE has selected a high quality team to make its debut at our race, which is fantastic. We expect the riders will do very well competitively and be a team that the fans will embrace,” he said.
The race starts in Adelaide on Sunday January 15 with the Down Under Classic, before the first of six stages get under way at Prospect on Tuesday January 17.
Old Willinga Hill, which in previous years has proved decisive, will for the first time host a stage finish, coming at the end of the 151.5km fifth stage.
“We’ll have a good chance of being up there in the sprints, but with the new stage finish on Old Willinga Hill, we also come prepared for a different style of racing,” said Bannan.
“All in all, we are really looking forward to kick starting the WorldTour with a great race to show that the team is here to compete at the highest level.”