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Andy Schleck will open 2013 at the Tour Down Under

SYDNEY (AFP) — Former Tour de France winner Andy Schleck (RadioShack-Nissan) said Friday he will launch his 2013 season at the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, competing in the race for the first time.

Schleck said he was looking forward to the challenge after missing much of the European season due to a pelvic injury he suffered in a time trial crash at the Critérium du Dauphiné in June.

“I’m very excited to go to South Australia,” he said. “I’ve heard about the race from other riders many times, and I’m very excited to see what it’s like to race in Australia.”

Race director Mike Turtur said the course should suit the climbing specialist from Luxembourg, who has done well in hilly classics.

“Next year the race will feature a number of challenging ascents, and I’m sure all fans look forward to seeing Schleck tackle climbs such as Corkscrew Road and Old Willunga Hill,” said Turtur. “After a challenging season this year, I’m sure Andy will be eager to stamp his authority on the 2013 cycling calendar.”

The Tour Down Under is held in Adelaide and South Australia from January 20-27.