The BMC Racing Team will be led by Philippe Gilbert, current UCI Road Race World Champion and Alessandro Ballan, 2008 UCI Road Race World Champion at the Santos Tour Down Under next January, with the seven man roster announced today.
Santos Tour Down Under Race Director, Mike Turtur, said he was happy once again to welcome Gilbert and Ballan back to the race, complemented by a very strong team line up.
“This is a super strong team across the board. The BMC Racing Team of riders presents a big threat across every stage of the race. This is the first team announcement for the 2013 event and to announce a team of this calibre is very pleasing to say the least,” says Mike Turtur.
Philippe Gilbert, reigning UCI Road Race World Champion will return to race at the Santos Tour Down Under in 2013 for the first time since 2008.
"I have good memories of this race. My first time was in 2004 (with FDJeux.com) with a lot of Australians: Baden Cooke, Matt Wilson and Mark Renshaw so it was a very good experience. I won the young rider jersey, a stage and was fourth overall. So it was very good experience for a 22-year-old rider,” says Gilbert.
In 2008, Philippe Gilbert returned to the race and won the King of the Mountain jersey, only missing a top 10 finish by one second. "My winter training and preparation so far has been perfect. I saw the parcours on the Internet and it looks good for me. So I will go there with some ambition and we also bring a great team. But for the first race, it's hard to know how you will really feel."
Team mate, Alessandro Ballan believes BMC Racing is bringing a very competitive team and with the inclusion of Gilbert have the ability to aim for stage wins. "The Santos Tour Down Under will be very difficult. I think the decisive stage will be the next to last one – Stage 5 – with its two ascents of Old Willunga Hill and uphill finish. In my opinion, it's not too demanding, but it will be a factor,” says Ballan. "Last year I worked for Martin Kohler, who had the Ochre leader's jersey. This time I hope to have a good overall result myself, as I started preparing for this race a long time ago." Fabio Baldato, BMC Racing Team Assistant Director last rode the Santos Tour Down Under in 2008 and will return in 2013 managing the team understanding the degree of difficulty the race presents for the riders.
"This will be an exciting race for us, with two strong riders like Philippe and Alessandro and a great team around them. I know from racing in the Tour Down Under myself as a rider in 2008 about Willunga Hill and the challenges it presents,” said Fabio Baldato.
“It's important to get off to a good start in the WorldTour races, so of course we'll want to achieve some good results in Australia. The riders will have a training camp together next month and then it will be important for them not to take too much of a holiday before we resume again in January."
The BMC Racing Team for the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under will be led by Team Manager Fabio Baldato (ITA) and includes riders: Alessandro Ballan (ITA), Philippe Gilbert (BEL), Martin Kohler (SUI), Klaas Lodewyck (BEL), Amaël Moinard (FRA), Steve Morabito (SUI) and Danilo Wyss (SUI). More rider and team announcements will be issued over the coming weeks.
The Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 20-27 January 2013. Visit www.tourdownunder.com.au for more information.