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|O’Grady eyes third title - Gennie Sheer|
Stuart O’Grady has set his sights on victory in the 2005 Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under and his Cofidis team has confirmed a strong line up of talent to help him achieve his third victory in his hometown event.
“I definitely want to win it,” said O’Grady, who was last week named Australian Male Road Cyclist of the Year. “I missed out on racing it this year so I’m fired up to make a big impression in 2005.”
The Cofidis team will include O’Grady’s faithful lieutenant, Matt White, who will be making his Jacob’s Creek Tour Down Under debut. Newly signed sprint specialist Jans Koerts, has been assigned the role of getting O’Grady to the finish line in the big sprints throughout the season the Adelaide event will be his first with the Cofidis team. Reigning Estonian road race and time trial champion, Janek Tombak is also listed to start.
“It’s basically the team that rides the Classics (major one day races) and it’s a really strong group,” said O’Grady. “We’ll be strong in the sprints through Koerts and Tombak and we’ve got experience with White and Peter Farazijn. Plus there’s a couple of young strong blokes to do the work when it’s needed.”
O’Grady has enjoyed amazing success this season becoming the first Australian man to win a round of the World Cup. He also claimed a Tour de France stage win and the gold medal in the Madison at the Athens Olympic Games.
“It’s been a very long year but I’ve had a good break and I’m now cruising back into training and building up a solid base,” said O’Grady. “By the time the Tour starts I should be in good form.”
O’Grady says he’s also excited about racing the road race at the Australian Open Road Championships being staged in the Adelaide Hills town of Echunga.
“That’s another of my 2005 objectives, to take the jersey back,” said O’Grady who was the 2003 Australian Road Champion. “It’s going to be pretty difficult because it will be a top field but I’ll be having a go.”
But Cofidis won’t have it all their way with an Queensland’s Allan Davis leading the Liberty Seguros team in Adelaide. David, described by multiple Tour de France green jersey winner, Erik Zabel, as the ‘next big thing’, has had his share of the podium in 2004 and finished fifth in the road race at the World Championships in Italy.
“There’s no way Manolo (Saiz - Team Director) is bringing the team out for a holiday and he’ll be expecting us to perform,” said Davis who at the 2004 event competed with Team Australia because of logistical delays which prevented Liberty riding in Australia. “It’s going to be great to ride in the Liberty pro team colours for the first time in Oz.”
The Liberty team includes new recruit and Athens Olympic road race silver medallist, Sergio Paulinho of Portugal as well as Spaniard Isidro Nozal who has Tour de France and Tour of Spain stage wins in his list of achievements. Nozal was second overall in the Tour of Spain in 2003 and this year finished seventh overall.
“Nozal is very strong and I’m looking forward to meeting Paulinho,” said Davis. “Albertio Contador is also coming to Australia and he’s a really good climber.
“Contador suffered a seziure and crashed in a race earlier this year so he hasn’t raced since May but he has a lot of potential and will be making his comeback in Australia.”
Davis’ return to training was delayed to fit in his wedding and Gold Coast honeymoon but says he has now settled back into his training regime.
O’GRADY Stuart AUS
KOERTS Jans NED
Team Manager: Bernard Quilfen
DAVIS Allan AUS
KEMPS Aaron AUS
Team Manager: Manolo Saiz
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