By Nisa Schebella
The strongest field yet is set to contest the first major stage race of the 2001 calendar. The big guns are loaded and ready to fire in Adelaide from January 16- 21 for the third edition of the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under. With the first time inclusion of Mapei Quick-Step and Lotto-Adecco, in the teams list as well as a new South Australian team, the University of SA, the line-up of 96 riders looks ready to set the bitumen afire.
The big sprint cards are being played in 2001 with Blijlevens, Steels, Capelle, Maignan, Kirsipuu and Zanini to name but a few. O'Grady was happy that Julich has been included in his Credit Agricole lineup with Magnus Backstedt along to help with the leg work. O'Grady was the winner of the inaugural event in 1999, but he will have his work cut out to challenge for the title this year.
As far as Team Telekom is concerned, Erik Zabel's absence will of course be felt, but team leader Steffen Weseman (who spent Xmas in Adelaide with his family) will undoubtedly enlist his team's support to challenge for the overall honours. With Olympic Gold IP and TP medallist Robert Bartko at his side, this is still a strong Team Telekom. World number one team, Mapei Quickstep will participate for the first time in Adelaide and double stage winner at this year's Tour de France Tom Steels will be ably assisted by Stefano Zanini, Michael Rogers and Daniele Nardello.
Also first timers in Adelaide are Lotto Adecco, led by Jeroen Blijlevens, who replaces the injured Andrei Tchmil as team leader. AG2R Decathlon front up again with defending TDU Champ, Gilles Maignan, Estonian wonder Jaan Kirsipuu and French riders Ludovic Turpin and Cristophe Agnolutto. Linda McCartney have a new sponsorship deal with Jacob's Creek wines, who are also the TDU title sponsors, and have added Marcel Gono, John Tanner, Miguel Martin Perdiguero and Juan Carlos Dominguez to their lineup
Big Mat will field French Road Champion Christophe Capelle as team leader and feature Aussies Jay Sweet and Patrick Jonker in the team as well as Brit Jeremy Hunt. Team CSC-World on Line (formerly Memory Card-Jack and Jones) will be led by Danish TT champ and TDU veteran Nicolaj Bo Larsen, Tristan Hoffman and Nicolas Jalabert. The three Aussie teams will feature the cream of the crop including the explosive Graeme Brown (United Water), Robert Tighello, Cadel Evans and Scott Suckling (Sunsmart-Mitsubishi), and Kristjan Snorrason, Ben Brooks, and Gene Bates ( University of South Australia) among other local stars, will be mixing it with the big guys.
Cyclingnews.com has a popular tradition of providing blow-by-blow coverage of the world's major stage races, including the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a Espana and the World Championships. We will be doing it for the first time this year for the Tour Down Under, and you will be able to follow the action as it unfolds via our disinctive live coverage. Look for live links on the cyclingnews.com homepage, or the results table above.
Cyclingnews.com's live stage coverage can also be viewed on the official race website, www.tourdownunder.com.au, as part of an official media partnership with the race organisation. Wherever you are, you won't miss a beat of the action!
Ag2R Decathlon Credit Agricole 1 Gilles Maignan (Fra) 11 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) 2 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) 12 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) 3 Innar Mandoja (Est) 13 Benoit Poilvet (Fra) 4 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) 14 Anthony Morin (Fra) 5 Philippe Bordenave (Fra) 15 Jerome Neuville (Fra) 6 Alexandre Botcharov Rus 16 Bobby Julich (USA) 7 Ludovic Capelle (Bel) 17 Anthony Langella (Fra) 8 Christophe Agnolutto (Fra) 18 Chris Jenner (NZl) Saeco Macchine Per Café Telekom 21 Salvatore Commesso (Ita) 31 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) 22 Biagio Conte (Ita) 32 Robert Bartko (Ger) 23 Alessio Galletti (Ita) 33 Robert Sgambelluri (Ita) 24 Jorg Ludewig (Ger) 34 Ralf Grabsch (Ger) 25 Torsten Nitsche (Ger) 35 Stephan Schreck (Ger) 26 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) 36 Danilo Hondo (Ger) 27 Mario Scirea (Ita) 37 Gerhard Trampusch (Aut) 28 Brad Davidson (Aus) 38 Kai Hundertmarck (Ger) Jacob's Creek-Linda McCartney CSC-World Online 41 Maximilliano Sciandri (GBr) 51 Nicolaj Bo Larsen (Den) 42 Tayeb Braikia (Den) 52 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) 43 Marcel Gono (Aus) 53 Koen Beeckman (Bel) 44 David Mckenzie (Aus) 54 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) 45 John Tanner (GBr) 55 Arvis Piziks (Lat) 46 Ciaran Power (Ire) 56 Jakob Piil (Den) 47 Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) 57 Oliver Asmaker (Fra) 48 Juan Carlos Dominguez (Spa) 58 Marcelino Garcia (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step Lotto Adecco 61 Tom Steels (Bel) 71 Jeroen Blijlevens (Ned) 62 Bart Leysen (Bel) 72 Glenn D'Hollander (Bel) 63 Stefano Zanini (Ita) 73 Fabien De Waele (Bel) 64 Michael Rogers (Aus) 74 Kurt Van Lancker (Bel) 65 Luca Paolini (Ita) 75 Paul Van Hyfte (Bel) 66 Crescenzo d'Amore (Ita) 76 Hendrick Van Dijck (Bel) 67 Dario Cioni (Ita) 77 Nico Eeckhout (Bel) 68 Daniele Nardello (Ita) 78 Hans De Clercq (Bel) Big Mat United Water 81 Christophe Capelle (Fra) 91 Graeme Brown (Aus) 82 Jay Sweet (Aus) 92 Allan Davis (Aus) 83 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) 93 Nic Brown (Aus) 84 Patrick Jonker (Aus) 94 Darren Rolfe (Aus) 85 Alexandre Chouffe (Fra) 95 Cameron Jennings (Aus) 86 Xavier Jan (Fra) 96 Bruce Mcintosh (Aus) 87 Dominique Rault (Fra) 97 Scott Davis (Aus) 88 Franck Pencole (Fra) 98 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Sunsmart-Mitsubishi University of South Australia 101 Nick Gates (Aus) 111 Kristjan Snorrason (Aus) 102 Trent Wilson (Aus) 112 Matt Wilson (Aus) 103 Robert Tighello (Aus) 113 Luke Roberts (Aus) 104 Cadel Evans (Aus) 114 Lado Fumic (Ger) 105 Peter Rogers (Aus) 115 Gene Bates (Aus) 106 Scott Suckling (Aus) 116 Russel Van Hout (Aus) 107 Ben Day (Aus) 117 Adrian Laidler (Aus) 108 Steve Williams (Aus) 118 Steve Cunningham (Aus)
2000 Gilles Maignan (Fra) Ag2r Prevoyance 1999 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole