Schleck ‘very excited’ to do Santos Tour Down Under for first time in his career
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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Schleck ‘very excited’ to do Santos Tour Down Under for first time in his career

by Shane Stokes at 7:22 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
Official confirmation that Luxembourg star will begin his season in Australian WorldTour event

Andy SchleckA report on Tuesday that Andy Schleck will make his Tour Down Under career debut in January has been officially confirmed today by the race organisers, who are enthusiastic about the 2010 Tour de France winner’s participation.

“Andy is the first confirmed rider for the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under and we are delighted to be welcoming him to race in South Australia for the first time,” said Minister for Tourism Gail Gago today. “This is very exciting news for Australian cycling fans, for South Australia and for the event.”

In taking part, Schleck will start his season earlier than ever. In the past three seasons the earliest race he disputed was the 2012 Trofeo Palma de Mallorca on February 5th. While Grand Tour riders often prefer to follow a familiar programme, he is making the change as he is very short of racing fitness.

Schleck never hit top form this season, being unable to match his previous level in the Ardennes Classics and also being below par in other races. He insisted he had sufficient time before the Tour de France to get into top shape, but crashed heavily in the Critérium du Dauphiné time trial and fractured his pelvis.

As a result he missed over three months of competition, losing out on the Tour de France, the Olympic road race, the Vuelta a España and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. He finally resumed racing on October 2nd in the Binche-Tournai-Binche Memorial Frank Vandenbroucke, but was a non-finisher there.

He also withdrew from the subsequent Tour of Beijing, although he got four full stages in before dropping out on day five.

Schleck is determined to be back in Tour-winning shape next season, particularly as the race is more mountainous than this year’s time trial-heavy contest. The January 20th start of the Santos Tour Down Under will enable him to get going early on, and give him additional racing prior to his big targets.

“I’m very excited to go South Australia,” the RadioShack Nissan rider said. “I’ve heard about the race from other riders many times, and I’m very excited to see what it’s like to race in Australia.”

The 2013 edition of the Santos Tour Down Under is tougher than before, and if Schleck manages to come into the race in good shape, he could even have a platform to do something in the event.

“Next year the race will feature a number of challenging ascents,” said race director Mike Turtur. “I’m sure all fans look forward to seeing Schleck tackle climbs such as Corkscrew Road and Old Willunga Hill. There will be plenty of opportunities to see Andy in action, and we are particularly pleased he will be joining the Santos Tour Down Under as it celebrates its 15th anniversary.

“After a challenging season this year, I’m sure Andy will be eager to stamp his authority on the 2013 cycling calendar.”


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