Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team has announced the roster that will participate in the Santos Tour Down Under, the first race of 2013, from Jan. 20th to Jan. 27th.
First, there is the People's Choice Classic — a 51km circuit race "preview" to the Santos Tour Down Under. Then, there are Stages 1 through 6, which include some uphill finishes mixed in with the flat, sprinter friendly stages.
OPQS Sports Director Rik Van Slycke said there are riders who can do their best regardless of the course.
"We want to support the young strength of Andy Fenn, to keep working on his development as a top sprinter," Van Slycke said. "We will go with him to see how close he can get to Andre Greipel and other sprinters there. The team can also be strong in the uphill finishes. Serge Pauwels, Jerome Pineau and Peter Velits will be part of the team and will try to get as close to victory as possible."
Van Slycke said Santos Tour Down Under, and other early races this year, will hopefully set the tone for 2013 just as the earlier races did for a highly successful 2012 OPQS season.
"It's important because like we saw last year, the guys started very good in Argentina," Van Slycke said. "It caused a kind of snowball effect. If we have a good result, the guys who go to Qatar for example will take over the steering of the season and try to do as good as we did. So, it's key to get a good start and gain confidence for everyone. It seems that we've done good enough in training to be competitive early. This is quite an important race."