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“We are coming to the Tour Down Under with Gavazzi and Gasparotto to work for stages, and we are pleased to bring Dutch National time trial champion Lieuwe Westra to Australia for his first race in Astana Pro Team kit," Astana sp...

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ANDRIY GRIVKO

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07.01.2014 @ 11:40 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

The field for the Tour Down Under is taking shape after another three teams have announced their rosters for the first WorldTour race of the season. Lieuwe Westra will make his debut in Astana colours in the race but his team will be focused on stage wins with Enrico Gasparotto and Francesco Gavazzi. FDJ.fr will bring a number of sprinters and Jussi Veikkanen and Kenny Elissonde for the GC while Team Tinkoff-Saxo will line up its Australians Rory Sutherland and Jay McCarthy on their home soil.

 

Astana, FDJ.fr and Team Tinkoff-Saxo have announced their rosters for the opening WorldTour race of the season and they will all bring strong teams to the Australian race. Especially the Kazakh Astana team is bringing considerable firepower to the other side of the world as they hope to get their WorldTour campaign off to a good start.

 

The main attraction on the Kazakh team is Dutch time trial champion and 2012 Paris-Nice runner-up Lieuwe Westra who will make his debut for his new squad in Australia. On paper, the Dutchman is well-suited to the course, having won the stage to Mende in the 2012 Paris-Nice, but the race may come a bit too early for the time trial specialist.

 

Instead, the team will focus on Enrico Gasparotto and Francesco Gavazzi whose characteristics as fast finishers and Ardennes specialists make them perfect choices for the explosive course in Australia. They will be joined by compatriot Valerio Agnoli and strongman Andriy Grivko who could also excel in this race.

 

American time trialist Evan Huffman will work as a domestique while Jacopo Guarnieri will lead the charge in the sprints.

 

“We are coming to the Tour Down Under with Gavazzi and Gasparotto to work for stages, and we are pleased to bring Dutch National time trial champion Lieuwe Westra to Australia for his first race in Astana Pro Team kit," sports director Stefano Zanini says.

 

Race director Mike Turtur is pleased with the fact that Westra has chosen to start his Astana career in his race.

 

“Astana Pro Team is bringing a solid roster to Adelaide and Lieuwe Westra is an experienced addition to the seven-man team,” he said. “Westra had a brilliant season with the stage win at the Amgen Tour of California before going on to win the time trial at the Dutch National Championships.

 

“As the first UCI WorldTour event of the season the Santos Tour Down Under is an important race for all teams and with the calibre of cyclists we are attracting, it is getting bigger and better every year.”

 

FDJ with several options in all kinds of stages

FDJ.fr will not bring its two top sprinters Arnaud Demare and Nacer Bouhanni to the traditionally sprinter-friendly Australian race. This will open the door for Geoffrey Soupe who will get a chance to go for some personal glory with the support of experienced lead-out man William Bonnet who could also have a go in the sprints himself.

 

Anthony Roux is another fast finisher that could be an option if it comes to a sprint from a reduced bunch on some of the harder days.

 

For the GC, the French team has puncheur Jussi Veikkanen who spends most of the season working for others but has a good track record in the Tour Down Under. Last year he was 10th in the event and will try to improve that result on a similar course.

 

Another option for the GC will be young climber and winner of the Angliru stage in the Vuelta a Espana Kenny Elissonde who was 13th last year. However, his characteristics as a pure climber do not make him a perfect fit for the explosive climbs in Australia.

 

Former junior world champion Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier will make his debut with the team, after causing some controversy in the off-season by choosing the squad instead of Europcar. The roster is completed by Arnaud Courteille.

 

“FDJ.FR always bring a competitive team to the Santos Tour Down Under and this the year their focus will be on supporting Veikkanen in his bid for the Ochre Jersey,” Turtur said.

 

Team Tinkoff-Saxo with their Australians Down Under

Team Tinkoff-Saxo will do their first race with Oleg Tinkov as team owner but the team will not bring any of its stars to Australia. Michael Rogers was originally scheduled to do the race but due to his positive test he has been replaced by double U23 Liege-Bastogne-Liege winner Michael Valgren who will make his professional debut.

 

Instead, the team is likely to focus on Rory Sutherland who will be eager to shine on home soil, in the GC, with veteran Nicki Sørensen and Australian youngster Jay McCarthy being alternative options. For the sprints, new signings Nikolay Trusov and Michal Kolar who will make his professional debut, will be cards to play while Christopher Juul-Jensen complete the roster.

 

“Tinkoff-Saxo is bringing an exciting roster to the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under and Australia will be well represented with Jay McCarthy and Rory Sutherland," Turtur said. “Aussie cyclists are always the crowd favourites here in Adelaide so it is fantastic to see McCarthy and Sutherland returning to the race.”

 

The 6-day Tour Down Under kicks off on January 21, with the People's Choice Classic criterium taking place two days earlier.

 

Astana for the Tour Down Under

  • Enrico Gasparotto (Italy)
  • Andriy Grivko (Ukraine)
  • Francesco Gavazzi (Italy)
  • Lieuwe Westra (Netherlands)
  • Evan Huffman (United States)
  • Valerio Agnoli (Italy)
  • Jacopo Guarnieri (Italy)

 

FDJ.fr for the Tour Down Under

  • William Bonnet (France)
  • Arnaud Corteille (France)
  • Kenny Elissonde (France)
  • Pierre-Henri Lecuisinier (France)
  • Anthony Roux (France
  • Geoffrey Soupe (France)
  • Jussi Veikkanen (Finland)

 

Team Tinkoff-Saxo for the Tour Down Under

  • Nicki Sorensen (Denmark)
  • Jay McCarthy (Australia)
  • Michael Andersen (Denmark)
  • Nicolay Trusov (Russia)
  • Christopher Juul Jensen (Denmark)
  • Michael Kolar (Slovakia)
  • Rory Sutherland (Australia)

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