Two-time Tour de France stage winner Juan Miguel Mercado, 28, is ready to lead Agritubel when it makes its Tour Down Under debut in January. The Spaniard won this year's 190.5 km stage 10 into Pau, getting into an early break and riding away in a two man attack with Cyril Dessel (Ag2R Prévoyance). The two stayed clear and Mercado took the sprint.
It was the second stage victory for Mercado, his first coming in the 2004 Tour. Agritubel was the only wild card team entered in the 2006 Tour de France and six members of that team are headed to Adelaide for the 2007 Tour Down Under, including fellow Spaniards José Alberto Martínez and Moisés Dueñas. The team will also send young French talent Benoît Sinner, 22, who is the reigning U23 European road champion.
"We're really looking forward to welcoming Agritubel to Adelaide and I'm sure they'll be a force in the race," said race director, Mike Turtur. "The fact they are sending such a strong team of their top riders demonstrates how serious they are about making an impact early in the season."
Crédit Agricole has also confirmed their starting list for the Tour Down Under with Russian Alexandre Botcharov again heading to Australia. The 31 year-old, who finished second overall behind Australian Michael Rogers in the 2002 Tour Down Under, posted a second overall in the 2006 Tour Méditerranéen and was eighth in the road race at the World Championships in Salzburg.
Crédit Agricole will also start New Zealander Julian Dean and Australian rider Mark Renshaw.
The Ag2R Prévoyance team of defending champion Simon Gerrans has announced two changes to its starting list. Frenchmen Renaud Dion and Christophe Riblon will be replaced by Swiss rider Martin Elmiger and Frenchman Stéphane Goubert.
The 2007 Tour Down Under will be held January 16 – 21, 2007. For further information please visit the official website at www.tourdownunder.com.au
Alexandre Botcharov (Rus)
Julian Dean (NZl)
Christophe Edaleine (Fra)
Patrice Halgand (Fra)
Christophe Laurent (Fra)
Mark Renshaw (Aus)
Nicholas Roche (Irl)
Yannick Talabardon (Fra)
Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa)
Manuel Calvente (Spa)
Cédric Coutouly (Fra)
José Alberto Martínez (Spa)
Moisés Dueñas (Spa)
Eduardo Gonzalo (Spa)
Hans Dekkers (Ned)
Benoît Sinner (Fra)
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