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Mark Renshaw (Belkin) in the lead at the Eneco Tour
Pauwels and Bakelants among other top riders heading to Australia
Australia's Mark Renshaw will return to the Santos Tour Down Under next year with his new Omega Pharma Quick-Step teammates. The powerful sprinter was named on Sunday to the team's seven-man roster heading to South Australia for the race on January 19 to 26, 2014.
Renshaw, whose 2013 season included a win at the Clásica de Almería, is known for his skill as a lead-out man for the world's fastest road cyclists. The Omega Pharma Quick-Step team will also include Belgian rider Jan Bakelants, who won stage 2 of the 2013 Tour de France and held the yellow jersey for stages three and four.
Santos Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur said that Bakelants and Renshaw, who have both joined Omega Pharma Quick-Step for the 2014 season, would be eager to make their mark.
"Omega Pharma Quick-Step delivers consistently strong performances at UCI WorldTour races and they've named a solid, experienced group of riders to kick off the season," said Turtur. "Serge Pauwels, who won the mountains classification at the 2007 Santos Tour Down Under, will return and is likely to be in the mix on climbs such as Corkscrew and Menglers hills."
Furthermore, the line-up will include young French rider Julian Alaphilippe and 23-year-old British sprinter Andrew Fenn, whose accolades as a junior included twice being named European champion.
"The team we'll see here in South Australia has a good mix of strengths and we look forward to seeing how this translates across the varied race routes we've presented," said Turtur.
Omega Pharma Quick-Step will fly from Amsterdam to Adelaide under the direction of Sports Director Rik Van Slycke.
"The routes won't be much different that what we saw in the last edition of the race," said Van Slycke.
"We'll have a few days in Australia before the race to adjust to the jet lag and take advantage of the good weather to train. The squad will have an athlete like Mark Renshaw, who will be highly motivated for his hometown race, in which he's already done well in the past.
"Next to him we'll have [Matteo] Trentin and [Andrew] Fenn, the young Alaphilippe, in his first race as a pro, and Verona. Experience on the team will be guaranteed by Bakelants and Serge Pauwels.
"The goal is to stand out as major players from the get go and try to obtain a victory right away. It will be an important way to get the season of to the best possible start," he said.
Sport and Development Manager Rolf Aldag said the Tour Down Under represents the start of the new season, an important race for the team to make its first mark.
"The guys who are going there are really looking forward to the race. Compared to the rest of the team, their preparation is more advanced so they will be in shape for the race," he said.
"On the squad we have a good mix of expert riders and young athletes who can really benefit from this experience."
Omega Pharma Quick-Step for Tour Down Under: Julian Alaphilippe, Jan Bakelants, Andrew Fenn, Serge Pauwels, Mark Renshaw, Matteo Trentin, Carlos Verona Quintanilla.