Columbia-HTC rider André Greipel makes his return to Australia keen to avoid the bad luck that plagued his 2009 Tour Down Under efforts. The German sprinter will lead the American team's campaign in Adelaide, Australia, from January 17-24.
The event's 2008 winner - the first year the race was included on the UCI ProTour calendar - crashed in the third stage last year as defending champion and suffered a dislocated shoulder that put him out of competition for almost four months.
"Last year I had some bad luck, although I did win the first stage. However, I don't expect to have that bad luck again," said Greipel. "When I race, I'll definitely be thinking about 2008 more than 2009. Every race is different, but I hope I can win at least one stage."
Greipel looked set to take another Down Under crown last January, winning stage one to Mawson Lakes ahead of the likes of eventual overall winner Allan Davis and Robbie McEwen. But his crash on an extremely windy day to Victor Harbor put him out of contention and competition, although he's remaining focused on the breakthrough result two years ago.
"The Tour Down Under in 2008 was the first time I could have real ambitions for myself, so it's a race I remember with a lot of affection. You could say Australia made me," said Greipel.
Columbia-HTC's foreign contingent arrives in Adelaide on Sunday and Greipel indicated that the distance from Europe can also be a factor. "Adapting to the time difference is crucial, but so is good training beforehand," he said.
"Marcel [Sieberg] and I will be down for breakfast in the hotel at 6:00 a.m and out training at 6:30 in the morning to avoid the heat. I've found that's the best way to do it, and long-term it really pays off."
Columbia-HTC for Tour Down Under: Bernhard Eisel; Matt Goss; Bert Grabsch; Andre Greipel; Leigh Howard; Michael Rogers; Hayden Roulston; Marcel Sieberg