André Greipel of Team Columbia will defend his 2008 Tour Down Under victory, race organisers announced Friday. The event, to be held January 18-25, 2009, will also feature Lance Armstrong's return the peloton.
Greipel had the third-most wins on the 2008 season and finished fifth in the UCI ProTour rider rankings for the year. It was the best season of his career, "all set on a solid foundation of victory at the 2008 Tour Down Under," said race director Mike Turtur.
In 2008, the German won four stages on his way to the overall title.
Greipel will be supported by a strong team, including American George Hincapie. "The inclusion of an experienced rider such as Hincapie, who is such a reliable and solid competitor, will really add to our world-class cycling spectacle," said Turtur.
For the first time, Hincapie will face his former teammate Armstrong in a race on an opposing team.
Team Columbia will feature Australians Adam Hansen and Michael Rogers. Rogers won the race in 2002 but hasn't participated in it since 2005. Another Australian, Alan Peiper, will serve as directeur sportif.
The Columbia squad for the Tour Down Under will be André Greipel, George Hincapie, Michael Rogers, Bernhard Eisel, Mark Renshaw, Greg Henderson and Adam Hansen. (SW)