The prospect of a match up between some of the world's best sprinters in Australia took another step towards happening with Santos Tour Down Under organisers today announcing that André Greipel will return to the event in 2011.
The defending and two-time overall winner will debut for the Omega Pharma-Lotto squad at the race in Adelaide, South Australia on 16-23 January; he'll be the leader of a strong lineup that includes experienced Belgian Mario Aerts and his talented young countrymen Jürgen Roelandts and Olivier Kaisen, Spanish rider Vicente Reynes plus former HTC-Columbia representatives Marcel Sieberg and Adam Hansen.
Australian rider Hansen also makes his debut for the Belgian team on home turf - he and Sieberg were brought into the team to support Greipel, having achieved success with the big German during their tenure at Bob Stapleton's squad.
"It's great to see last year's champion return to defend his title, which has been a tradition of our race each year," said race director Mike Turtur. "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."
In January this year Greipel became only the second rider - after local favourite Stuart O'Grady - to win two editions of Australia's premier stage race and with a strong team behind him the sprinter from Rostock is a good chance of adding another ochre jersey to his collection.
As reported on Cyclingnews on Wednesday, it's been confirmed that he'll be up against fellow sprinter Tyler Farrar; the American will be making his first trip to Australia for the Tour Down Under next year as the Garmin squad debuts in its latest incarnation: Garmin-Cervélo.