Officials from Cycling’s Tour Down Under in Adelaide have shrugged off the Lance Armstrong affair, saying the event will move ahead with the signing of international star Andy Schleck for next year’s race.
Race director Mike Turtur said public response to the tour continued to be positive and all its sponsors had maintained their support.
“We’ve kept them fully briefed and everyone is comfortable with the Santos Tour Down Under and the plans that we have,” Turtur said.
“It’s a fresh start, the new year, a new season.”
With Armstrong stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and declared a drug cheat, the American’s participation in three Tours Down Under had the potential to damage the reputation of the race.
But Turtur said it was riders like Schleck, Australian favourite Stuart O’Grady and upcoming stars like Jack Bobridge who would take the sport forward.
Schleck will lead the RadioShack Nissan team in Adelaide in January as he seeks to get his career back on track after missing much of 2012 with a fractured hip.
He is a Tour de France champion, being awarded the 2010 crown after Alberto Contador lost a battle against a doping charge.
Turtur said the addition of another hard climb up Corkscrew Road into the 2013 Tour Down Under would suit the Luxembourger.
Schleck is also expected to come to the fore in the stage that finishes on top of Willunga Hill.
“Because of his interrupted season with a fractured hip, it’s going to be of interest to everyone to see how he starts off the new year,” Turtur said.
“You know from some of the comments that he’s made that he wants to hit the ground running in January and there’s sections of the course that do suit his style of racing.”
In a statement, Schleck said he was looking forward to competing in Australia for the first time.
“I’ve heard about the race from other riders many times and I’m excited to see what it’s like to race in Australia,” he said.