Powerful Australian sprinter Mark Renshaw will return to the Tour Down Under in January, joining a star-studded field featuring compatriots Cadel Evans, Richie Porte and Simon Gerrans.
Renshaw was named on Monday in a seven-man Omega Pharma Quick-Step team heading to South Australia.
Renshaw, whose 2013 season included a win at the Clasica de Almeria, is known as a lead-out man for the world’s fastest road cyclists.
The Omega Pharma team includes Belgian Jan Bakelants, who won stage two of the 2013 Tour de France and held the yellow jersey for stages three and four.
Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur said Bakelants and Renshaw, who had both joined Omega Pharma Quick-Step for the 2014 season, were eager to make their mark.
“… They’ve named a solid, experienced group of riders to kick off the season.
“Serge Pauwels, who won the mountains classification at the 2007 Santos Tour Down Under, will return and is likely to be in the mix on climbs such as Corkscrew and Menglers hills.”
The line-up also includes young Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe and 23-year-old British sprinter Andrew Fenn.
“The team we’ll see here in South Australia has a good mix of strengths and we look forward to seeing how this translates across the varied race routes we’ve presented,” Turtur said.
The team will fly from Amsterdam to Adelaide under the direction of sports director Rik Van Slycke.
The 2014 Tour Down Under will be staged in and around Adelaide from January 19-26.
Apart from 2011 the Tour de France winner Evans, Porte, Gerrans and Renshaw, Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck – returning from his doping suspension – and German crowd favourite Jens Voigt will also compete.
For Porte, the first Australian to win Paris-Nice, it will be key preparation for the Giro d’Italia in May, when he wants to contend for his first Grand Tour title.
Gerrans is a two-time Adelaide winner, most recently last year, and will lead Orica-GreenEDGE.
He is targeting the national road titles, the tour and the Herald Sun Tour through January and early February.
This July, Gerrans became only the sixth Australian to wear the yellow jersey as race leader in the Tour de France.
Evans and Porte have never won the Adelaide race.
Evans wants to be in strong form as he prepares for the Giro, where he finished third overall this year.
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