Old foes Mark Cavendish and Andre Greipel will go head-to-head for the first time at the Tour Down Under in January.
Greipel, so long Cavendish’s understudy at HTC-Columbia, will race for Omega Pharma-Lotto in 2011 and, with Cavendish to make his Tour Down Under debut, the pair, along with Garmin-Transitions’ Tyler Farrar, will battle it out for the title of fastest sprinter.
And seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong will make his last international pro appearance in the race.
“I love going to Australia and I’m eager to get back there for some more racing,” said Cavendish.
HTC-Columbia team manager Rolf Aldag added: “Santos Tour Down Under is obviously a very important race in our calendar.
“As a team we enjoy the chance to prove that the hard work during the winter has paid off. The motivation from early wins at Tour Down Under gives the whole team a big boost for the first part of the season. We will start with a very strong roster and we want to target GC and stage wins.
“We have proven that this is possible and everybody knows of the importance of the race. The organisation is perfect, with big support from the local crowd and we are looking forward to start our racing there.”
Defending champion Greipel, who last year added a second title to his 2008 triumph, has long maintained he is as fast as Cavendish but has never raced the Tour de France, whereas the Manx Missile has gone on to win 15 stages in the world’s biggest cycling race.
German Greipel was picked ahead of Cavendish, suffering from illness and poor early season form, for last year’s Milan-San Remo – a title Cavendish had won 12 months previous.
That prompted the 25-year-old Brit to hit out that Greipel had no chance of winning the Classic and Greipel left for pastures new at the ended of the season.
And the Tour Down Under sets up a mouth-watering clash in what is traditionally a tepid early-season race.
Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur commented: “It’s going to be great to watch Cavendish and Greipel go head-to-head in Adelaide. They are superb sprinters and it will be fascinating to see who will come out on top.”
- To view the full 2011 UCI WorldTour calendar, click here.