Lotto Belisol: Preview Tour Down Under
On Sunday 19th of January the cycling season really begins for Lotto Belisol, then the team will stand at the start of the People’s Choice Classic criterium in Adelaide. Two days later the Tour Down Under will start. It’s the 16th edition of this Australian WorldTour stage race of six days. Cycling at the other side of the world makes there is a time difference. It’s nine and a half hours later than in Belgium. The stages usually end between 14:30 and 15:00 local time, so between 5:00 and 5:30 CET. The criterium, 50 kilometers long, finishes about a quarter to eleven in the morning in Belgium.
There’s a strong delegation of Lotto Belisol with sprinter André Greipel as leader. He will battle amongst other against Marcel Kittel and local riders Matthew Goss and Mark Renshaw. Sports director Herman Frison looks ahead to the Tour Down Under, just like the German champion himself.
Herman Frison, sports director: “The Tour Down Under is very important to us. It’s the first race of the WorldTour and the faster you can win on that level, the better for the team and the riders. That takes off the pressure. That’s why we want to win a stage as soon as possible. After that we will aim for a second one and it would be totally amazing if we could also win a third stage like was the case last year. The race has become tougher than the past years, in theory I see three opportunities for a bunch sprint. It’s always nice to win the criterium in the run-up to the Tour Down Under, after all it’s the first confrontation between the sprinters, but that race isn’t a goal in itself.”
“We have a strong team, with André Greipel as the leader. Jens Debusschere and Jürgen Roelandts will be the last men before him. First of all Olivier Kaisen, but also neo-pro Stig Broeckx, will be the guys for the work on the road. In the tougher stages they can grab their chance, just like Jürgen Roelandts. The GC isn’t a goal for us, but it wouldn’t be the first time that someone who doesn’t specifically aim for it ends up high.”
“The trip to Down Under lasted almost two days. The first days on Australian soil we had to adjust to the jetlag. Afterwards we trained, with rides up to five hours. It’s summer in Australia now and it’s always more pleasant to train and race in nice weather, although we had a mild winter in Belgium so far.”
André Greipel: “It has become a tradition to start my season in the Tour Down Under. This will be my seventh attendance in a row. I won the criterium in the run-up to the stage race three times and I took fourteen wins at the actual Tour Down Under. In 2008 and 2010 I won the GC as well, so I have good memories of it. The race has become a bit tougher each year. We left for Australia two weeks before the start, so we could train in the most optimal conditions. It can be very hot here, but I don’t have any problems with the heat.”
Selection Lotto Belisol: Stig Broeckx, Jens Debusschere, André Greipel, Adam Hansen, Olivier Kaisen, Jürgen Roelandts and Marcel Sieberg.
Sports director: Herman Frison
Stage 1: Tuesday 21st of January: Nuriootpa – Angaston (135 km)
Stage 2: Wednesday 22nd of January: Prospect – Stirling (150 km)
Stage 3: Thursday 23rd of January: Norwood – Campbelltown (145 km)
Stage 4: Friday 24th of January: Unley – Victor Harbor (148,5 km)
Stage 5: Saturday 25th of January: McLaren Vale – Willunga Hill (151,5 km)
Stage 6: Sunday 26th of January: Adelaide – Adelaide (85,5 km)
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