Lance Armstrong touches down in Australia today a week ahead of his team’s scheduled debut in the Tour Down Under. Team Radio Shack will officially start the 2010 racing season at the Tour Down Under. The tour begins on Tuesday, January 19th, 2010 and will be televised on Versus. It was 1 year ago that Lance began his Tour d’France comeback at this very race.
The week long stage race will have a star-studded line up of racers and teams. The current world champion, Cadel Evans, will also be there, with his new American based team, BMC. BMC will also have their big gun, George Hincapie, racing for their team this year after signing with BMC for the 2010 season. 2009 Tour Espania (Spain) winner Alejandro Valverde arrived in Australia on January 9, together with his team-mates of Caisse d’Epargne to also take part in the Tour Down Under.
Also, one of the oldest riders in the field, at 39 years of age, Saxo Bank rider Jens Voigt will be back in action. As you may recall, Jens Tour De France dreams ended with that nasty fall in 2009 in stage 16 that put him in the hospital after loosing consciousness after a bloody crash.
The race, although staged, is mostly a flat course suited for fast sprint finishes. Last year in the 2009 Tour Down Under , Allan Davis from team Quick Step won three crucial stages (stages 2,4 and 5) and the overall points classification. This year, Allan Davis will be racing with team Astana (Lance’s 2009 team for the Tour de France) .
This year, watch for Andre Greipel, who is racing this year for team Columbia. He won the race overall in 2008. He is a very good sprinter and should fair well in this year’s race. Last year, he won the first stage, then had a horrible crash that side-lined him for 4 months. Since his return, he has won 18 races in 2009 coming back with a vengeance.
Another Aussie to watch this year is the ‘pocket-rocket’ , Robbie McEwen, who has the most stage wins (12) at the Tour Down Under. Also, watch out for 2-time winner and 2nd last year, Stuart O’ Grady, who is healthy this year and will ride with team Saxo Bank.
The Australian race, first ProTour race of the season 2010, will take place between January 19 and January 24. The stage race is preceded by the one-day Cancer Council Classic criterium in Adelaide on Sunday, January 17.
Other reads and links:
Armstrong in Australia: “I’m in better shape than last year” [Cycling Weekly]
Tour Down Under 2010: Preview and coverage index [Cycling Weekly]