Velits heads Omega Pharma Quick Step team in Santos Tour Down Under
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Saturday, January 05, 2013

Velits heads Omega Pharma Quick Step team in Santos Tour Down Under

by Shane Stokes at 3:24 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
 
UniSA-Australia lineup partly announced, but three places remain to be settled post nationals

Peter VelitsThe 2010 Vuelta a España runner up and last year’s Tour of Oman champion Peter Velits will test his early season form when he leads the Omega Pharma Quick Step team in the upcoming Santos Tour Down Under. The 27 year Slovakian is at an age when he should be coming into his athletic prime and on that basis, could be set for his best season to date in 2013.

“This is definitely a team to watch and it will be interesting to see how riders handle the challenges of this month’s race,” said race director Mike Turtur, in announcing the lineup of the squad.

“The 2013 Santos Tour Down Under route is a good match for all-rounders such as Velits, whose excellent season last year included victories in the Tour of Oman and the time trial at the Slovakian National Championships.”

Velits will be joined by six others in the race, with Gert Steegmans, former world time trial champion Bert Grabsch, František Raboň, Classics specialist Jermoe Pineau, Andy Fenn and former Tour Down Under Skoda King of the Mountains winner Serge Pauwels also part of the squad.

Meanwhile the lineup of Team UniSA-Australia has also been announced, and will include world under 23 time trial bronze medallist and U23 Oceania TT champion Damien Howson.

Zak Dempster, Tour de Taiwan stage winner Anthony Giacoppo and Adam Phelan will also be past of the squad.

“Team UniSA-Australia always boasts impressive talent and the 2013 roster is no exception,” said Turtur. “Howson has clearly shown he is a cyclist to watch, while Anthony Giacoppo will be looking to build on a strong 2012 season that included stage wins at the Tour de Taiwan and the Tour of Borneo.

“Adam Phelan also secured a 2012 stage win at the Tour de Taiwan and Zak Dempster added a Czech Cycling Tour stage win to his impressive list of achievements.”

Three more riders will be added to the team after the Australian national championships, with the delay enabling the selectors to pick those in form and also acting as a carrot for riders to ride as well as possible in the champs.

According to Cycling Australia’s national performance director Kevin Tabotta, the WorldTour race is a big focus and is one the selected riders have worked steadily towards.

“There is always great motivation from Australians to get a start in the Santos Tour Down Under with the UniSA-Australia Team, so the competition for places will be on show in racing all through January,” he said. “The four pre-selected riders have had a great season and are all training to be at their best for the Tour.”

The 2013 edition of the race will begin on January 22nd, with the People’s Choice Classic taking place two days earlier. The Santos Tour Down Under is the first WorldTour event of the season and will feature all of cycling’s top teams bar the Katusha squad, which has been passed over for a WorldTour licence.

It is currently awaiting a CAS hearing in relation to its exclusion from the sport's top level.

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