Allan Peiper, the new director of competition for the Garmin-Cervélo squad confirmed German-Australian Heinrich Haussler as team leader for the Santos Tour Down Under. Speaking to Cyclingnews at the team launch in Boulder, Colorado last Thursday, Peiper laid out the team's goal: a repeat victory in the first WorldTour event of the 2012 season.
Last year, Cameron Meyer won the overall Tour Down Under for the team, but he and fellow Australian Jack Bobridge left Garmin-Cervélo for the GreenEdge squad. Peiper will send a mix of new riders and veterans with the sole goal of winning the race.
"Heinrich Haussler will be the team's leader and he will have Robbie Hunter and Jack Bauer with him in the sprints. Ryder Hesjedal will be there help out on the Willunga stage. Also, Nathan Haas, Martijn Maaskant and of course team leader Andreas Klier."
Hunter returns to the team after a one-year hiatus with RadioShack. The South African told Cyclingnews he was attracted back to the team after the departure of a number of riders such as Julian Dean, and is keen to be on a team that will focus on sprints.
"RadioShack was more of a Grand Tour team - every team is different, and I can respect that, but they didn't focus very much on sprints," Hunter said. "I'm looking forward to working with Tyler Farrar - he's at the age where he's coming into his top form."
Haas, a fast rising star of the Australian cycling world with a number of impressive 2011 victories to his name, is excited about his debut at the sport's top level.
"I'm really happy with my schedule, which starts with the Tour Down Under," Haas said. "I won't be over-raced, but I will get to discover every sort of type of racing - with some smaller races and a few big starts. That's the great thing about what Allan Peiper and his team have put together - every rider is given a race to target where he can get results."
Bauer is a Kiwi sensation who won a stage of the Tour of Utah, and has been on Peiper's radar for several years. Peiper said that Bauer is a prime example of the kind of rider he looks for. "I first saw Bauer in Belgium three years ago, and he had just missed the age limit for the under 23 races," Peiper explained, adding that Bauer's talent was apparent, but he could have easily slipped through the cracks and never gained a WorldTour spot because he didn't come up through the traditional development ladder.
"These are just the kinds of riders I look for - the undiscovered talents who might not get a chance otherwise," he said. It's a strategy he used to great effect at the HTC-Highroad squad, and will continue to use with Garmin-Cervélo.
"Jonathan Vaughters has shown great confidence in me, and has given me free reign. I've got several new directors as well who will be getting a crash course in directing. There is a lot for them to learn, but they're motivated.
"The most important thing is to establish a solid support structure where everything is taken care of to the last detail. That way the riders have no worries, and they can focus on racing their bikes."
In addition to Johnny Weltz and Bingen Fernandez, Garmin-Cervélo will be directed by Eric VanLancker, who worked with Peiper at the Lotto team along with newcomers Charly Wegelius and Geert Van Bondt.
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