Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith today announced that the UniSA - Australian National Team will compete in the 2009 Tour Down Under. The race will take place in South Australia from January 18 to 25 2009, and is the first stop on the world cycling calendar. Details of all teams and riders competing in the 2009 Tour Down Under will be announced later this year.
Lomax-Smith was happy with a repeat of last year. "We are delighted that the UniSA team – which will include some of the best Australian road cyclists – is again competing at the Tour Down Under in January. The UniSA team attracts a huge local following and has raced in every Tour Down Under since 2001."
UniSA-Australia was included in the 2008 Tour Down Under following a special permission being granted by the Union Cycliste Internationale's (UCI) ProTour Council. In 2008 the Tour Down Under became the first event outside Europe to join the prestigious UCI ProTour calendar. This guaranteed that the world's elite ProTour teams would compete at the event each year.
Following requests from the South Australian Government, the UCI governing body amended its rules to allow the national team of a race organiser's country to take part in UCI ProTour events.
"It is great news that the national team will again join the elite ProTour teams to battle it out for the Tour Down Under's prestigious ochre jersey," Lomax-Smith said. The University of South Australia has been a sponsor of the Tour Down Under since 2001.
UniSA Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Høj says the inclusion of the Australian national team is great news for the team, the University and all the local spectators. "The Tour Down Under continues to be a great match for UniSA and we are extremely proud to continue to be part of this world-class event," Høj said.
Team UniSA Supporters' Club Captain Patrick Jonker explained that riders in the UniSA national team have a fantastic opportunity to compete against the legend of cycling, Lance Armstrong. "Being a teammate of Lance's in 2000 for the US Postal Service Pro Cycling team, I can say the riders chosen for the UniSA national team will be looking forward to riding with an absolute professional," Jonker said. "It was a coup for the Tour Down Under organisers to secure Lance who will make his comeback to professional cycling by competing in the 2009 Tour Down Under."