Team Sky will race the Tour Down Under in Australia from January 16 to 23 with two former winners, Michael Rogers and Simon Gerrans.
“Cycling fans in Australia are heralding the return of their Aussie heroes, and are expecting a strong performance from both of these overall winners of past Santos Tour Down Under races,” said South Australia Premier Mike Rann.
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“Michael Rogers won the Santos Tour Down Under in 2002 and Simon Gerrans in 2006. Gerrans is one of the classiest riders in the peloton, and one of few riders to win stages in all three Grand Tours.”
Rogers and Gerrans will form part of Sky’s seven-man team with Greg Henderson, Geraint Thomas, Mathew Hayman, Ben Swift and Chris Sutton. Both Henderson and Sutton helped Great Britain’s Sky debut as a professional team last year. Henderson won the pre-race Cancer Council Classic criterium and Sutton won the race’s final stage in Adelaide.
“Team Sky is fielding an experienced and competitive line-up,” added Rann.
“Mick Rogers is another formidable force to be reckoned with, claiming overall victories in 2010 at the Tour of California and the Tour of Andalusia.”
Sky announced it signed Rogers on November 1. He raced the last five seasons with HTC-Columbia (formerly T-Mobile) and fits into Sky’s plan to “race the whole season”.
“We’ve strengthened the team, and I think we have a greater depth now,” said Sky’s Team Manager David Brailsford in the latest issue of Cycling Weekly magazine.
“Next year, we want to be having a bit more fun and just enjoy it a bit more,” continued Brailsford. “We want to race the whole season.”
This season, Rogers finished 23rd behind overall winner and team-mate, André Greipel at the Tour Down Under this year. He will help Sky lead its charge against his two former team-mates, Greipel, who now races for Omega Pharma-Lotto, and Mark Cavendish.
“It’s going to be fascinating to see Cavendish and Greipel go head-to-head,” said Rann earlier this month. “They are both exceptional sprinters and it will be great to see how they go head-to-head and who is in the best form.”
HTC’s Mark Renshaw, Bernhard Eisel, Matthew Goss, Bert Grabsch, Dan Pate and Hayden Roulston will support Cavendish.