Former race winner Luis Leon Sanchez to lead Rabobank in Santos Tour Down Under
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Former race winner Luis Leon Sanchez to lead Rabobank in Santos Tour Down Under

by Shane Stokes at 6:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
Dutch team to feature three strong Australian sprinters

Luis Leon SanchezSeven years after taking the 2005 event, Luis Leon Sanchez will compete in the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under at the head of a strong Rabobank team.

The Spaniard had his career breakthrough in the Australian race and since then has picked up victories such as three Tour de France stage wins, three national time trial championships, Paris-Nice and the Clasica San Sebastian.

The 27 year old will race alongside what is a very impressive team lineup, being joined by 2010 world under 23 champion Michael Matthews, four-time stage winner Graeme Brown and Mark Renshaw, a rider who for years was Mark Cavendish’s chief leadout man but who will now have a bigger chance to chase his own success.

The team will be completed by the Dutchmen Tom Leezer, Jos Van Emden and Wilco Kelderman.

The squad is the first confirmed lineup for the 2012 event, which will once again be a WorldTour race and will run between January 15th and 22nd. All of the UCI’s ProTeams will take part.

Race director Mike Turtur is pleased with the strong team entry and also the inclusion of a past champion in Sanchez. “The Rabobank team line up is quite formidable with Luis Leon Sanchez leading the team,” he stated. “The experience in this strong team should show on the results board come January.

“Having past winners continue to return to compete is a compliment to the level of fierce competition the race delivers.”

Matthews will be closely watched as he is seen as one of the big Australian riders for the future. He had a strong first year in the paid ranks, with his wins including a stage victory in this year’s Santos Tour Down Under. Turtur knows that he, Brown and Renshaw will be a big draw for the crowds.

“Matthews has had a taste of victory here in Adelaide and I am sure he will be hungry for more come January,” he said. “It is always fantastic to welcome back our Aussie champions to the race. Graeme and Mark tend to perform well here and we expect nothing different from them next year.”

The race has been one of the success stories of the WorldTour, showing consistent growth in recent years. The weather ensures a good start to the series, with many big names electing to take part because of the chance to race in the sun while Europe is in the depths of winter.


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