SYDNEY (AFP) -Portugal’s tenacious Tiago Machado will front the Katusha team at the Tour Down Under, the first UCI World Tour event of 2015, organisers said Wednesday.
Machado, who battled on after a serious crash in this year’s Tour de France, will be joined at Katusha by Russian all-rounder Maxim Belkov, who won stage nine of the 2013 Giro d’Italia.
Italian climber Giampaolo Caruso, winner of the 2014 Milano-Torino, will also represent the team.
“The Tour Down Under will be my first race for Team Katusha,” Machado said.
“I look forward to proving to the team they did well by contracting me.
“It’s always very hot around Adelaide. Many European riders suffer from it, but I don’t… I like it,” the 29-year-old said.
Team director Gennady Mikhaylov said Machado would be “our designated leader in this race”.
“Tiago likes the Tour Down Under. He started twice and both times with success,” he said. “After having finished already third overall, he is motivated to do even better in 2015.”
The Katusha team also includes Russians Vladimir Isaychev, Sergey Lagutin and Aleksei Tsatevich as well as Rudi Selig of Germany.
The Tour Down Under will be staged in and around Adelaide from January 17 to 25.
Race director Mike Turtur predicted a big turnout with Australia’s former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans among the starters.
“I’m sure we’ll see strong crowds lining climbs such as Checker Hill, Torrens Hill Road and Willunga Hill and the atmosphere is sure to be fantastic as top riders fight for all-important UCI World Tour points,” Turtur said.