Trek Factory Racing has named its seven-rider team for the 2015 Tour Down Under with Australian national mountain bike champion Trek Factory Racing XC rider Dan McConnell selected for the first WorldTour race of the season. McConnell finished third overall at the conclusion of the 2014 XC World Cup series.
"This is super exciting for me. I participated in TDU back in 2006 with Team South Australia. It was incredibly hot, but more than anything I remember the crowds in and around Adelaide; they were just phenomenal," McConnell said in a team press release.
"Mountain bikers spend quite a bit of time on a road bike, especially when we build endurance in the months before the World Cup season starts in May. At this time of the year, I probably ride 70 percent of the time on my Trek Domane," said McConnell. "Of course, a 90 minutes maximum effort with an average heart rate of over 180 is very different than a 150km stage with a sprint at the end. It's sort of hard to know where I'll be. At the national road championships I go pretty well, and that's on a hilly course."
Trek's team manager Luca Guercilena explained the selection of McConnell was another example of management's ability to facilitate riders participating in various disciplines.
"Trek owns a handful of cycling teams, and they all compete under the Trek Factory Racing umbrella," Guercilena said. "These crossover projects are very valuable. Grégory Rast rode a cyclocross race the other day, and Sven Nys swaps cyclocross for mountain bike and road cycling in summer."
TFR cross-country manager Jon Rourke added that from the moment McConnell suggested racing with the road team, there was no need to justify the process or the decision.
"The unique element is that Trek owns both programs, which allows for a much more seamless participation of riders into either disciplines without major hassles or sponsorship conflict worries," said Rourke. "Some people might say 'Oh boy, here's another mountain biker going on the dark side', but Dan still loves the dirt, and this race works into his favour for his mountain bike schedule.
"We support this opportunity and know Dan is fully committed to mountain bike racing - especially as he prepares for the Olympic Games in Rio2016. It's nice that these mountain bikers get to drop in and have fun and then go back. At the end of the day, we all love to ride bikes: road or mountain."
Also selected for the race is Australian Calvin Watson, Luxembourg national time trial champion Laurent Didier and current New Zealand national road race champion Hayden Roulston and the Italian trio of Eugenio Alafaci), Marco Coledan and Giacomo Nizzolo.
The recently retired Jens Voigt, who will continue his association with the Trek Factory Racing team, initially as a consultant and then as a directeur sportif will have his first racing assignment with the team at the Tour Down Under.
Trek Factory Racing team for the 2015 Tour Down Under: Eugenio Alafaci (Italy), Marco Coledan (Italy), Laurent Didier (Luxembourg), Daniel McConnell (Australia), Giacomo Nizzolo (Italy), Hayden Roulston (New Zealand) and Calvin Watson (Australia).