Nicholas Roche and Kai Reus in Tour Down Under 2009

Nicholas Roche and Kai Reus both former winners of the Martin Donnelly Junior Tour will open their 2009 campaign in the Tour Down Under In Australia next Tuesday.

But the real talk about the eleventh edition of the event is the presence of Lance Armstrong. The American has a remarkable record, winning seven Tour de France. Cyclists all over the globe will be focussing their attention on Adelaide in the southern part of Australia on the progress of the 37-year-old Texan.

Naturally the topic of Armstrong’s fitness will be high on the agenda and the odds are stacked against him winning the event outright. That’s not to say that he’ll be just one of the boys in the peloton.

Making his debut in the ‘tour’ will be Nicholas Roche in the colours of his new team AG2R who have an enviable reord in the event. They have contested each of the 11 editions and have been to the fore on many occasions. Winning it in the millenium year (2000) with Gilles Maignen, Mikel Astarloza (2003), Simon Gerrans (2006) and Martin Elmiger (2007).

This will the fifth season in the pro ranks for the son of Stephen Roche who created a real buzz in the cycling world back in the heady days of 1987.

Last season Roche represented Credit Agricole who since then have bit the dust like a number of teams who were unable to secure sponsorship.

But if Nicholas is able to produce the scintillating form of 2008 then his new paymasters will be very happy wth his signature. The young Roche certainly came out of the shadow of his dad and laid down a marker in his brief cycling career to date.

His performance in the Tour of Spain last September marked him out as one to watch in the future. He finished 13th overall and  only the photofinish camera deprived of a stage victory, but second was a magnficient achievement.
As for the young Dutchman, Kai Reus who won the junior Tour in 2002 in Waterford. In 2006 he had a crash and his future as a professional was in serious doubt. He was out of commission for 2008, but thankfully through the work of the medics and his team Rabobank he is back in the fold and looking forward to Adelaide. Reus came to prominence in Hamilton, Canada when he won the World Junior Road Race Championship.

Like Roche he will be keen to lay a marker in the sand for the season ahead.

The event has generated quite an amount of attention in the last couple of months. In all probability those in contention will have the added burden of hype, not associated with the race in previous years because of the presence of the ‘Texan.’ So, an upset could be on the cards and the future for the overall winer will be a real bonus.

Stages-Tuesday to Sunday

1/Norwood-Mawson Lakes, 140kms;
2/Hahndorf-Stirling. 145kms;
3/Unley-Victor Harbour, 136kms;
4/Burnside Village-Angaston, 143kms;
5/Snapper Point-Willunga, 148kms;
6/Adelaide City Council Circuit,90kms.

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