German road champion André Greipel has confirmed his appearance at the Tour Down Under as leader of Lotto-Belisol for the first WorldTour race of the season. The sprinter has won 14 stages at the race, including three in 2013 edition of the event, and has taken overall honours twice.
Greipel’s stage six win in Adelaide this year was his hundredth professional victory. Joining the rider known as ‘Gorilla' will be Australian Adam Hansen who won a stage at this year's Giro d'Italia and has completed the last seven grand tours.
Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur said Lotto Belisol was an impressive team that performed well at races around the world and is looking forward to their return in 2014.
"There's no question André Greipel and his fellow riders mean business when they come to race here," Turtur said.
"The explosive power of these cyclists is a force to be reckoned with, and we know how much fans enjoy watching the team storm home for a sprint finish."
For Greipel it has become a tradition to start his cycling season in South Australia. "In 2014 it will be my seventh attendance in a row. I won the criterium in the run-up to the stage race three times and I took 14 wins at the actual Tour Down Under," Greipel said.
"In 2008 and 2010 I won the GC as well, so I have good memories of it. The race has become a bit tougher each year, but I see three opportunities to sprint in this edition. The aim is a stage victory."
The race will also be an important opportunity to hone the sprinting train for the season. Unfortunately for the team a key cog in the train, Greg Henderson, will miss the race for the first time since 2008 after undergoing knee surgery. "It will be the first time that the sprint train will be put on the rails next season and that we can put it to the test," Greipel said.
Greipel also welcomed the summer temperatures as an alternative to training in the cold of the European winter. "We leave two weeks before the start, so we can train in the most optimal conditions. In Australia we are sure to have good weather," he said.
"It can be very hot, but I don't have any problems with the heat."
The Lotto Belisol team for the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under: André Greipel (GER, Adam Hansen (AUS, Jens Debusschere (BEL), Olivier Kaisen (BEL), Jurgen Roelandts (BEL), Marcel Sieberg (GER) and Stig Broeckx (BEL)