Italian ProTour teams Liquigas and Lampre-N.G.C. have confirmed their places on the 2009 Tour Down Under start list. Mike Turtur, Tour Down Under Race Director, reasoned with the 2008 results for the inclusion of the Italian squads.
"Liquigas finished fourth overall in the Team Classification at the 2008 Tour Down Under, so we expect them to be tough competition in 2009." In 2008, Liquigas' Francesco Chicchi won stage seven of Tirreno-Adriatico and stage one-a at the Settimana internazionale di Coppi e Bartali.
"Chicchi's strengths are in the sprints, making him one to watch for SA Lotteries Sprint jersey points," said Turtur.
Lampre-N.G.C.'s Matteo Bono will bring invaluable Grand Tour experience to the Tour Down Under, after competing in the 2008 Tour de France. "Bono turned professional in 2006 and his first pro win was stage six of the 2007 Tirreno-Adriatico," Turtur said.
Both Italian teams have a strong supporter base in Australia, with the South Australian Italian community adopting these teams as their own. "We all know how passionate Italians are, and we have come to expect good performances by both the Lampre-N.G.C. and Liquigas teams," said Turtur.
Lampre-N.G.C. plans to race with Matteo Bono, Emanuele Bindi, Andrew Grendene, Mauro Santambrogio, Vitaliy Buts, Volodymyr Zagorodniy and David Loosli. Bruno Vicino will be the directeur sportif.
Liquigas will travel to Australia with Macieji Bodnar, Claudio Corioni, Gianni Da Ros, Jacopo Gaurnieri, Aleksandr Kuschynski, Francesco Chicchi and Frederik Willems. Directeur sportif is Dario Mariuzzo.