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O’Grady named as Tour Down Under race director

The former Paris-Roubaix winner and Olympic track champion was named as new race director of Australia's biggest stage race

As expected, ex-pro Stuart O’Grady was named as race director at the Santos Tour Down Under on Tuesday.

Officials confirmed O’Grady, 46, an Olympic champion and Paris-Roubaix winner, will take over in 2021 from race director Mike Turtur, who’s been running the event since the race’s founding in 1999.

“My appointment to this role really is the pinnacle in my career. I have lived my life and career with the international cycling community, so this is a defining professional and personal moment for me,” O’Grady said Tuesday. “I’m excited that I will be delivering a race in my hometown, with one that I competed in, won and have watched grow its cycling participation and fan-base over the years.”

O’Grady’s career spanned nearly two decades; he raced professionally from 1995 until 2013, and won the Tour Down Under twice. In retirement, O’Grady launched a bike tour company that provided guided tours of the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, and the Tour de France, among other events.

The Australian admitted in 2013 that he used EPO during 1998. O’Grady’s confession came as part of a wave of controversy that rippled across professional cycling in the wake of the Lance Armstrong case with USADA and the Texan’s subsequent admission. Several other Australian riders also confessed using banned products during parts of their respective careers.

Under Turtur’s watch, the Tour Down Under has grown into a WorldTour staple, becoming Australia’s most important stage race as well as a popular season-opener for such riders as Peter Sagan and Geraint Thomas. Turtur confirmed last year that he would step down at the conclusion of this year’s 22nd edition of the race, set for January.

“We needed the right person, experience, fit, and someone who had an appetite to deliver a vision and really embrace the race with their own personality and someone ready to put their own stamp on it,” Turtur said. “[O’Grady] has terrific experience, networks and relationships globally, which will also bring new opportunities to the race and for South Australia.”

Among the confirmed starters are a host of Australian riders, including Richie Porte. Michael Matthews and Caleb Ewan, as well as the likes of Michal Kwiatkowski, Romain Bardet and Vincenzo Nibali.