Jens Voigt will begin his seventeenth season as a professional at the Tour Down Under in Australia, while fellow German Marcel Kittel will lead the Argos-Shimano team and target the many expected sprint finishes.
41 year-old Voigt rode the Tour Down Under with Credit Agricole and is heading back to Adelaide alongside Radioshack Leopard Trek team leader Andy Schleck, George Bennett, Laurent Didier, Ben Hermans, Tiago Machado and Jesse Sergent.
“Ten years ago, in my Credit Agricole days, I did my first Tour Down Under and I was immediately charmed by the race,” Voigt said in a press release from race organisers.
“It is a nice race, well organised, hard and challenging, but not too hard and that is just what we need at this time of the year. On the other hand it is no sprinter’s race. It’s just perfect and well balanced, that’s why I like to come to Adelaide."
Argos-Shimano WorldTour debut
Marcel Kittel will target the sprint finishes at the Tour Down Under as Argos-Shimano makes it debut as a WorldTour team in 2013.
Kittle won 13 races in 2012, including the one-day Scheldeprijs classic, two stages at the Eneco Tour, the Tours of Oman and the Circuit Franco-Belge. The 24 year-old German sprinter will have support from Australian teammate Will Clarke, Jonas Ahlstrand, Yann Huguet, Thierry Hupond, Koen de Kort and Albert Timmer. Clarke won stage two of the 2102 Tour Down Under with a solo breakaway.
Argos-Shimano Team Manager, Iwan Spekenbrink confirmed that the team would ride for Kittel and look for breakaways.
“A strong group of riders will represent our team in Australia and they can form a good sprint train to lead out our sprinter. They are riders with good attacking qualities and have prepared well for the Santos Tour Down Under at our team base at Altea Hills near Alicante," he said.
“Two of our riders have a special connection with Australia and want to impress the thousands of fans. Will Clarke comes from Australia and won a stage of last year’s Santos Tour Down Under and Koen de Kort, whose girlfriend is Australian, has stayed in Australia during the European winter for many years now."
The racing down under begins with a 51km evening criterium on Sunday January 20. The WorldTour Tour Down Under begins on Tuesday January 22.
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