Belgian super team, Omega Pharma – QuickStep will make its debut at the Santos Tour Down Under with a strong line up of sprinters set to take on the Australian WorldTour event.
Grand Tour stage winners Gert Steegmans and Gerald Ciolek headline the squad, with plenty on offer for the sprinters in Adelaide, despite the added difficulty of the new hill-top finish at Willunga on Stage 5 which is set to have a major bearing on who takes overall honours in 2012.
King of the Mountains winner from the 2007 event, Serge Pauwels might be one member of the peloton keen to make his mark on Old Willunga Hill on Stage 5, in his first race for the Belgian team having moved following two years with Sky. Pauwels will be looking to get 2012 off in the right fashion after a frustrating 2011 which was disrupted through injury.
Pauwels recently told Cyclingnews he wouldn't be sitting on the fence when it came to the season ahead.
"I really want to be competitive again and show what I can do in the biggest races, even the Grand Tours," he explained. "It's no secret that I like them and we'll see if I can do one of them."
Irish road race and time trial champion Matt Brammeier could be another who could spring a result in Adelaide, having moved from HTC-Highroad following the team's demise.
"Brammeier is a versatile rider on the road and on the track, bringing invaluable experience and ability to adapt to a racing situation to the team," said race director, Mike Turtur.
Having raced as a stagiaire for QuickStep in 2011, Matteo Trentin will be out to impress early and could be a man for the long breakaways. The 22-year-old claimed six wins this season as well as the Italian U23 road race title.
The Omega Pharma Quick-Step team for the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under: Gerald Ciolek, Matthew Brammeier, Serge Pauwels, Andrew Fenn, Gert Steegmans, Matteo Trentin and Julien Vermote.