Fear Them

Whilst watching Cav rip up Stage Two of the Tour de France might well bode well for London 2012, it’s easy to forget just how tough the competition is going to be at the Olympics. Take, for example, the deadly-looking line up that the Australians have announced: one Tour de France winner, one Paris-Roubaix winner, two Milan-Sanremo victors and a three-time world time trial champion. Filling the available spots – five for the Road Race, two for Time Trials – will be BMC’s Cadel Evans, Team Sky’s Michael Rogers and triple Orica-GreenEdge entries Stuart O’Grady, Simon Gerrans and Matthew Goss. Details of who will take what have yet to be announced but the smart money is on Evans and Rogers for the Time Trials.


The three qualified for places for the Women’s Road Race will be filled by Shara Gillow, Chloe Hosking and Amanda Spratt, hoping, we assume, to replicate Sara Carrigan’s gold from the Athens Games.



Greipel for Triple?

With German sprinter Andre Greipel now confirmed for the Team Lotto Belisol Tour Down Under squad it’s clear he will be heading out with the intention of making it three times lucky, having taken then win in both 2008 and 2010 editions – the only other rider ever having won twice being Australian favourite  Stuart O’Grady (1999 and 2001). The WorldTour opener – which takes place in and around Adelaide January 15 to 22 – always attracts the cream of riders hoping to make an early season impression and Race Director Mike Turtur confirmed Greipel’s involvement, saying, ‘We know Greipel is a formidable sprinter and our race suits him well, so it will be interesting to see if he can be the first rider to win three editions of the Santos Tour Down Under.’


Marc Sergeant, Team Director of the newly-named Team Lotto Belisol, added, ‘The Lotto Belisol squad will be built around our top sprinter André Greipel. Also André has a very warm relationship with the Australians and their Santos Tour Down Under. With Adam Hansen and Greg Henderson in the lineup, we have a local Australian and New Zealand rider, each with a specific role to support the team.’

The Lotto Belisol squad for the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under has now been confirmed as including: André Greipel (GER), Adam Hansen (AUS), Greg Henderson (NZL), Olivier Kaisen (BEL), Vicente Reynes (ESP), Jürgen Roelandts (BEL) and Marcel Sieberg (GER).



Get Ready for the Tour Down Under

January 15 to 22 is the date for your diary as the Santos Tour Down Under 2012, the traditional Australian kick-off event of the UCI WorldTour, draws near. First held in January 1999, the event has grown exponentially ever since and is now, by far, the biggest cycling race in the southern hemisphere – it became the opener for the WorldTour in 2008 making it the first non-European country to be included in the gruelling calendar and now attracts in excess of 780,000 spectators. Adding to the event’s prestige was the fact that cycling legend Lance Armstrong chose it in 2009 for his much-publicised return to pro racing.


Although at its heart the TDU is a week long WorldTour event, in a wider context it is an all-round festival of cycling with numerous associated activities (and more than a hint of party atmosphere) that also offers a unique opportunity for amateur riders to take to the pro route via the Skoda Breakaway Series.


When it comes to the main event the action gets underway with the Down Under Classic, a closed circuit road race through Adelaide which allows spectators an unparalleled opportunity to get up close to some of the biggest cycling stars in the world. After a day’s break the six subsequent stages traditionally break out of the city for a true tour of the regions highlights with the 2012 stages breaking down as:


Stage 1 (Tuesday January 17) – Prospect to Clare, 149km

Stage 2 (Wednesday January 18) – Lobethal to Stirling, 148km

Stage 3 (Thursday January 19) – Unley to Victor Harbor, 134.5km

Stage 4 (Friday January 20) – Norwood to Tanunda, 130km

Stage 5 (Saturday January 21) – McLaren Vale to Old Willunga Hill, 151.5km

Stage 6 (Sunday January 22) – Adelaide City Circuit – 90km, comprising 20laps.


As you would expect from a WorldTour event there are a number of highly fought over jerseys awarded at the Santos Tour Down Under – whilst the Tour de France’s leaders jersey is yellow and the Giro d’Italia’s is pink (the maglia rosa), the TDU’s is ochre; in addition the Skoda king of the Mountain and Jayco Spirit jersey (awarded to the rider who leads the sprint points tally after each stage) are also up for grabs along with the Cycle Instead Young Rider Jersey goes to the U25 with the fastest cumulative time at the end of each stage. Finally there is the Hindmarsh Most Aggressive Rider Jersey (taken by local hero Stuart O’Grady of Team Leopard-Trek in 2011) and the South Australia Brilliant Blend Winning Team Jersey which, this year, went to Movistar.


Only two riders have ever won the Santos Tour Down Under twice: Australia’s Stuart O’Grady (1999 and 2001) and Germany’s André Greipel (2008 and 10).



GreenEDGE Shapes Up

GreenEDGE are continuing their surge to become Australian’s first World Tour team, and with the signing of Stuart O’Grady (over from Leopard-Trek) for the 2012 season and the defection of Travis Meyer, Cameron Meyer and Jack Bobridge (all from Garmin-Cervélo) and the addition of Pieter Weening from Rabobank – the ambition now looks one step closer. O’Grady, the only Australian to have won the Paris-Roubaix classic and a leading team member at Leopard-Trek where he takes the role of “road captain” (the rider who helps decide and coordinate tactics on the fly mid-race), has stated that the chance to ride for “home squad” was one that he couldn’t turn down.


Although Tour de France champion Cadel Evans is thought likely to see out the remainder of his career at BMC he is a long time friend of GreenEDGE mastermind Shayne Bannan and attended a team function in Italy this May – speaking of O’Grady’s move, Evans commented “I was really pleased to see that news, about Stuey going to GreenEDGE… When he (Bannan) does something, he does it properly and he doesn’t lose perspective, he doesn’t lose vision.” Evan’s has also vowed to help out his old friend in any way possible, though jokingly admits that should Bannan end up signing the likes of Contador or the Schleck Brothers to his fledgling team he will, “…help a little less.”