By Les Clarke
Garmin-Slipstream's Trent Lowe is excited about riding his first Tour Down Under next week. Lowe is one of only several current Australian professionals not to have ridden the nation's premier event.
"I've never done Tour Down Under before, and it wasn't until race director Mike Turtur picked us up from the airport that I realised how big a setup and show it is here, and how much bigger it is this year," said Lowe. "He was saying that was even more so this year because Lance will be here."
Having ridden the Tour de France before his own national tour, Lowe is one of Garmin's talented young options for stage races during 2009 after coming across from Discovery Channel before the 2008 season. "I'm blown away after seeing the setup they've got here. The race village, the hotel and the setup for accreditation," he said. "I haven't done it before so I'm not sure if it's like this every year, but I feel more like I'm at the Australian Open tennis more than a cycling event.
"We have the big tent that's like our base, and it's got everything we need in addition to being air-conditioned... It's like the green room for cycling," he added.
With a predominantly flat parcours for the week-long event, the Tour Down Under may not be suited to Lowe's strengths in the mountains, but he's definitely motivated to continue the Garmin tradition of providing surprises in major races. For Lowe the race itself is a surprise of sorts. "We're going to check out a few of the key stages this week, and I know Whitey's the best guy I can draw on for knowledge of the race," said Lowe of team director and former Tour Down Under stage winner Matt White.
"I also know Julian Dean has raced this event many times, so those guys generally know how it goes and what the terrain is like," he added. "Personally it's as much about tuning up for other races in the year because it's early in the season, but by the end of the week I should have some good rhythm in my legs."
"Our guys are looking really fit, though; Ryder [Hejesdal] looks good, and Julian and CJ [Sutton] look strong for the sprints and have been preparing well in the lead up to the New Zealand and Australian national championships respectively," he continued. "We'll have some options and some cards to play, and Whitey's great at giving us a task each day."
The Tour Down Under gets underway on Sunday evening with the Cancer Council Classic, a criterium pre-cursor to the actual ProTour race which commences on Tuesday.