The Etixx – Quick-Step team has unveiled a solid squad for the upcoming Santos Tour Down Under, with Mark Renshaw representing its hopes in the sprint finishes and a number of other riders set to challenge on the harder days and possibly in the overall classification.
“We have a good team for any situation,” said directeur sportif Rik Van Slycke. “Guys like Gianni Meersman and Mark Renshaw, for example. Mark is also Australian, which brings a little extra motivation that can play a role in the sprints. He even won the Down Under Classic in 2007, and won the first stage of Tour Down Under in 2008.
“Meersman can also take advantage of specific kinds of sprints, such as in a small group. For the climbs we have David De La Cruz, Pieter Serry, and Maxime Bouet. Bouet did a good race last year, but crashed two days from the finish which prevented a top finish. We are sure they can arrive focused and ready to contribute on the climbs such as on Willunga Hill.”
Van Slycke pointed out that Lampaert, De La Cruz, and Bouet are making their debut with the team after moving there from their previous squads, and that this will further heighten their motivation to impress.
The squad will be completed by Martin Velits and Yves Lampaert, both strong riders who should do well.
“With the challenge of the parcours also comes the possibility of the wind affecting the race, but with this kind of team we can be ready to do well in any kind of situation on each stage,” Van Slycke said.
Renshaw has past history of success in the race plus its preceding event. He took the Down Under Classic in 2007 and then won the opening stage of the Tour Down Under one year later.
He clocked up victory on stage two of the Tour of Britain this year and should consequently have strong motivation in next month’s event.
The programme begins on January 18 wih the People’s Choice Classic. The Santos Tour Down Under begins two days later and runs until January 25.