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Rory Sutherland makes his return to the WorldTour for 2013 with Saxo-Tinkoff
Saxo-Tinkoff rider's first time since U23 days
Rory Sutherland (Saxo-Tinkoff) arrived at the start of Sunday's Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal buoyed by the news that he'd been named to Australia's nine-man world championship squad, an honour and a benefit rooted in his return to competition at the WorldTour level, and a European base, for the first season in eight years.
All in all, it's been some time since the 31-year-old contested a world championship event.
"I haven't done it in ten years," Sutherland told Cyclingnews prior to the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montreal. "I did it as an under-23 and then the next year I broke my arm. The next year I was a reserve and then I raced here (North America) for a few years. When you're racing in the States I didn't want to go to Europe for a one-day race. You're jet-lagged and if you do it I think you've got to do it properly."
As part of his move to Saxo-Tinkoff for 2013 Sutherland moved to Girona, Spain in November of last year and raced a European campaign through July. With his block of time training and racing in North America now concluded his stint on this side of the Atlantic is now over.
"I go back to Europe this week and I've got a lot of racing still to come so I think it's a good year to do it."
Sutherland is keen on Australia's chances in two weeks time in Florence, Italy.
"I think it's a really good, rounded team. Obviously we've got Cadel [Evans], who's won before, and Richie [Porte], who's obviously had a really good last couple of years. There's other guys with a lot of experience and young guys, too, which I think is fantastic to see.
"There's actually three of us, myself, Michael Matthews and Mathew Hayman, from the same town in Australia which is kind of rare because we don't have that many professionals. And if Michael Rogers was healthy and hadn't have crashed then there would have been four of us [from Canberra] which would have been pretty interesting.
"I haven't done any recon, I figured we'll see it enough. And I figure that my job is probably different than the guys who are going for the finale. We'll kind of see what the plan is when we get there.
The Canadian WorldTour races were Sutherland's first races in nearly three weeks after finishing ninth overall in Colorado's USA Pro Challenge and the Boulder, Colorado resident was pleased with his opening race Friday in Quebec. Sutherland finished in a group 2:08 behind winner Robert Gesink after riding for teammate Matti Breschel who placed 8th.
"It was good, but it took me and Timmy [Duggan] a long time to get here: 24 hours. We had delays and cancelled flights and had to go through New York and [Washington,] DC to finally get up here, but it's a great race and a great circuit.
"It's such a really good vibe in Canada for these races. It's my first time doing them and I'm really excited."
Sutherland had even volunteered to represent Saxo-Tinkoff in Thursday afternoon's pre-WorldTour street sprints in Quebec, but his delayed flights forced the team to use Bruno Pires instead.
"That would have been fun. They said 'who wants to do it?' and no one wanted to so I said I would, I don't mind. I'll have to open up anyway and it's not like it's a 200 meter full sprinter's sprint, but I got in that day at lunch time so I wasn't going to be doing the sprints."
Sutherland has had his primary residence in Boulder, Colorado since 2007 and all of the recent flood devastation has hit home
"Timmy and I left the same day it all started," said Sutherland. "I have two houses there and one of them's in the flood plain. I've talked to renters in one house and they said it's absolutely dry and then our current house we have people there as well and they said our basement's dry so I think we've come out very lucky.
"I don't know how and why, but everyone else I know has their basements flooded and they're pumping stuff out and it's very serious."