Team Sky has announced its squad for the Tour Down Under, with new signing Michael Rogers leading the team in the early season ProTour race along with fellow Australian Simon Gerrans.
Also named in the team are countrymen Mathew Hayman and Chris Sutton, with Kiwi Greg Henderson and Britons Ben Swift and Geraint Thomas completing the line-up.
Team Sky made its racing debut in Australia last year with Greg Henderson and Sutton taking first and second in the opening Cancer Council Classic criterium.
"We did well in it last year and we're going to go there with high expectations this time around," team manager Dave Brailsford said.
"It's a well-organised race and a great season opener because it's centralised, with the riders staying in the same hotel all week. It really does set you up nicely. We've got quite a few Aussies in the team and they're very keen to perform in front of their home crowds.”
The Team Sky sprinters will take on multiple stage winner and two-time overall champion Andrei Greipel, who will make his debut with Omega Pharma-Lotto. His nemesis Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) will also be riding, setting up an immediate sprinters show down in Australia.
“The race will be based around sprinters - the world's best will be there which is going to make it tough for everyone but we'll be in the mix, looking to get the lead-out train working well again, and will give it everything,” Brailsford said.
"Looking at our team we've got Greg who finished third overall in 2010 and performed really well, and he'll be the main man in the sprints. Simon Gerrans and Mick Rogers, who are both former winners of the race, will also be in our line-up. Simon is looking forward to racing hard and getting stuck in and while the race might come a little bit early in the season for Mick, he's obviously another top-level performer who will be contributing to the team effort.”
"Mat Hayman and CJ complete the Aussie contingent; they both did great in the race last year and are fantastic team players. Ben Swift and Geraint Thomas, who are flying over from the UK, complete the team. Ben wants to be a little bit ahead of where he was at that time last year so he should have plenty to offer and all in all it's a strong group so we'd expect some good results."
The Cancer Council Classic takes place on January 16 while the main race will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from January 18-23.
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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.