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  Tour Down Under Preview  
  The first World Tour race of the year is upon us. Over the years the race has become more and more serious and while it is still very early in the season and many riders and teams have come here seeking a strong start and World Tour points.

2014 Results

2 Cadel EVANS +1
3 Diego ULISSI +5
4 Richie PORTE +10
5 Nathan HAAS +27
6 Robert GESINK +30
7 Daryl IMPEY +34
8 Geraint THOMAS +37
9 Adam HANSEN +37
10 Egor SILIN +47

Past Winners

2014 Simon Gerrans
2013 Tom-Jelte Slagter
2012 Simon Gerrans
2011 Cameron Meyer
2010 Andre Greipel

The Route

A change in course this year has seen the corkscrew climb of the past two years removed, while the popular Willunga Hill remains. A second uphill finish has been added on stage three in to Paracombe.

Stage 1: Tanunda - Campbelltown

Cadel Evans won the stage ending in Campbelltown last year but that was after an ascent of the corkscrew climb. This year the route skips the climb with two laps of an opening circuit each containing a sprint point with crucial bonus seconds. With just under 30km to go riders reach the top of the only KoM of the day, Checker Hills. Topping out 28.5km from the finish it is unlikely to see a rider or a select group go away to the finish though the teams without sprinters will likely use to climb in an attempt to reduce the group.

Sprint Points: 28.4km and 60.4km
KoM Points: 104.1km

Stage 2: Unley - Stirling

The stage finishing in Stirling is a long running part of the Tour Down Under. Rolling roads all day before two full laps of the finishing circuit and three ascents to the finish. It is a finish that suits a puncheur or strong sprinter. Get a jump on the bunch and you can often hold on. Past winners include Michael Matthews, Tom-Jelte Slagter and Diego Ulissi. With bonus second always important expect to see the overall contenders fighting for the win.

Sprint Points: 49.4km and 100.1km
KoM Points: 29.8km

Stage 3: Norwood - Paracombe

An uphill start out of Norwood with an undulating opening 50km. From here the peloton faces three laps of an undulating 25.7km circuit each with a sprint point. At the end of the third lap riders have a 15km downhill section before they tackle the main feature of the stage. The Torrens Hill road climb peaks with just 400m to the finish. While it is a flat run in the climb will have taken a lot of riders out of contention. Likely to see the first big shake up of the GC with the climb a perfect opportunity for attacks.

Sprint Points: 67.4km, 93.1km and 118.8km
KoM Points: 142.8km

Stage 4: Glenelg - Mt Barker

More climbing from the start but fortunately for many it doesn't last long and it then flattens out for around 30km. From here though it will be a hard day in the saddle for many as the roads again are up and down. With 40km remaining on the stage there is a long gradual climb of around 20km. Another small rise with around 10km remaining before the roads go slightly downhill before a flat run in to the finish.

Sprint Points: 89.6km and 117.1km
KoM Points: 44.2km

Stage 5: McLaren Vale - Willunga Hill

The now famous Willunga Hill is back and is likely to again be a crucial stage for the general classification. The stage finishes with two climbs up Willunga Hill, the past three years have seen Simon Gerrans win either the stage or the overall here. It often comes down to a small sprint between several of the GC contenders but last year Richie Porte was allowed to ride away to the stage win. Expect to see the teams of the contenders come to the front ahead of the first climb and attempt to thin out the peloton.

Sprint Points: 63.4km and 103.4km
KoM Points: 129.1km and 151.1km (finish)

Stage 6: Adelaide

The traditional finish in Adelaide with 20 laps of a 4.5km circuit. With bonus seconds at two sprints and the finish up for grabs if the general classification is close the lead could still change. Though it is really a day for the sprinters and with the route as it is last year they have fewer chances than in the past.

Sprint Points: 36km and 54km
KoM Points: 45km and 67.5km

The Contenders

Full start list available here

General Classification


They may be missing Simon Gerrans and the team may be saying they are just chasing a stage win but don't be fooled by that. Even without Simon Gerrans the team has a number of cards to play including former winner Cameron Meyer, Daryl Impey who finished seventh last year while riding in support of Gerrans and the 2014 Herald Sun Tour winner Simon Clarke. Michael Hepburn was flying at the National Championships and will be crucial in supporting the teams goals.

Meyer hasn't been back to the race since 2012. Meyer finished nearly six minutes down at the National Championships last weekend and he didn't seem at his best. Clarke finished 10th, claiming second in the bunch sprint from the peloton behind Steele Von Hoff. Clarke has been quiet since his Vuelta stage win and while he has posted significant results including top 10 at the World Championships in 2013 and the Herald Sun Tour last year, this is an opportunity to really step up.

Despite having two Australian contenders it is probably South African Daryl Impey who has the best chance of making it three wins in four years for the team. Seventh last year while working for Gerrans shows Impey can perform on this type of course. Finished 2014 strongly, winning the Tour of Alberta and fourth (Gerrans won) in Quebec. Impey climbs well on the shorter sharper climbs and has a strong sprint that will see him pick up bonus seconds.

Cadel Evans and Rohan Dennis

Evans finished second last year, just one second behind Gerrans after taking the lead with his Corkscrew Hill stage win. It is the penultimate race for Evans and while he has had stage success and wore the leaders jersey at his home tour he has never won it. Without later season targets to focus on expect him in peak form. Without the Corkscrew climb this year Evans will have to be proactive elsewhere. A very smart rider who will pick his moment. Often forgotten is that Evans has a very quick finishing kick and will no doubt look to pick up bonus seconds. Backed by a strong team including Rohan Dennis, who finished fifth back in 2012 while still an under 23. Dennis provides the team with a 1-2 punch and is a contender in his own right should the right situation present itself. Climber Peter Stetina will be an important rider in Evans' ambitions.

Richie Porte, Geraint Thomas and Sky.

After finishing fourth last year Porte's early season form ran out when he arrived in Europe and illness all but destroyed his season. Back in a big way in 2015, Porte picked up the national time trial title last week when he overturned a gap of over 30 seconds on Rohan Dennis to claim a maiden title. His form is clearly some of the best he has had in his life and will be looking to carry that over. Porte won the stage to Willunga Hill solo last year and if he can repeat that will be in with a chance of the overall. The uphill to the finish in Paracombe also suits Porte.

The Tour Down Under has been a happy hunting group for Geraint Thomas the past two seasons. Won a stage and finished third overall in 2013 before supporting Porte and still finishing eighth himself last year. While Porte might be the team leader Thomas gives the team another option as well as strong support. In Peter Kennaugh, Team Sky has another rider who could win.

Nathan Haas and Cannondale-Garmin

The now lone Australian on Garmin-sharp finished fifth last year making it four Australian's in the top 5. Haas finished nearly 30 seconds down while the top four were separated by just 10 seconds before finishing fourth at the Herald Sun Tour. As impressive as Haas' performances in Australia were it was in Europe where he really stepped it up. Finished 12th at Criterium International, 19th Circuit Cycliste Sarthe and an impressive sixth at De Brabantse Pijl last year. Haas' climbing has clearly improved and his fast finish saw him involved in bunch sprints as well. Haas finished the year with a second Japan Cup win.

Cannondale-Garmin brings a strong team including Ryder Hesjedal and Davide Villella who are both strong climbers. Jack Bauer is a bit of a wildcard for the team. Was impressive throughout 2014 in Europe and very nearly earned himself a Tour de France stage win. Easy to overlook has finished 11th twice before.

Jack Haig and Robert Power

Over the past few years UniSA have proven to be more than just a chance for young riders to get experiences but are producing results. Rohan Dennis’ fifth and best young rider in 2012, Jack Haig 17th and the best young riders jersey last year.

This year they bring arguably their strongest team yet. Jack Haig is back and with his focus now solely on the road you can expect more. An added bonus is the inclusion of Robert Power this year. They two get on well and proved to be able to work together well in Europe last year.

Haig was mixing it with World Tour riders last year and finished third two weeks later at the Herald Sun Tour. Haig spent the final months of the season in Europe with Jayco-AIS WTA squad including finishing third at Tour Alsace. Before 4th at GP Capodarco, 7th at GP Poggiana and 12th Tour de l'Avenir while riding in support of Robert Power.

Robert Power has only spent one year at under 23 level but set the field on fire. Three wins in one day ones in August, 2nd and the first Australian to stand on the podium at the Tour de l'Avenir plus 7th Tour d'Azerbaïdjan and Czech Cycling Tour, 8th Course de la Paix last year. When Power goes few can follow. This is a new test for him riding against experienced World Tour professionals so it will be interesting to see how he goes. The pressure is off but with a strong team around him Power could produce a very strong ride.

The focus might be on the two young guns but Jack Bobridge is also in the team. His past few years at World Tour level might have bee quiet results wise but Bobridge is back in a big way. Bobridge finished third in the time trial at the National Championships and hasn’t had this much focus and determination in years.

Miles Scotson was flying at the National Championships taking both the under 23 time trial and road race title and will be strong support. Don’t ignore Neil Van der Ploeg either. Considered a sprinter but he also climbs very well. The climbs here might just be a little too much but will be very important support for Haig and Power.

Luis Leon Sanchez

After spending 2014 at pro-continental level Sanchez is back in the World Tour with Astana in 2015. A former winner back in 2005 and has also finished second twice before. The race is different now to what it was then but Sanchez is still a name to watch. The undulating roads of many of the stages is where Sanchez is at home. Astana brings a strong team including Lars Boom, Dario Cataldo and Laurens De Vreese.

Adam Hansen

One of the most popular figures in the peloton and always performs well on Australian soil. Finished ninth last year while also claiming the King of the Mountains jersey and increasing his popularity. A key part of Andre Greipel's leadout and with the German missing the race this year Hansen has more opportunity for himself. Hansen has stage wins at the Giro and Vuelta as well as ninth at the Tour of Turkey last year. After claiming eighth at the National Championships expect to see Hansen again in contention.


The team brings eight time Tour de France stage winner Marcel Kittel but World Time Trial Championships bronze medallist could prove to be a strong challenger for the overall. While Dumoulin is a strong time trialist, he is just as at home on the undulating terrain here. Second last year at Baloise Belgium Tour and the Tour of Alberta, 3rd Eneco Tour, 5th Tour de Suisse as well as 2nd in GP Quebec and 6th Montreal, races both won by Simon Gerrans. If Dumoulin comes with good form he could be the name to challenge the Australian's.

Simon Geschke is a rider similar to Tom Dumoulin who performs well on the undulating terrain and finished 24th last year. A strong end of season finishing top 20 at the Tour of Alberta and GP Quebec and Montreal. American climbers Chad Haga and Lawson Craddock who have both been top 10 finishes at the Tour of California could also play a role. A very strong team with multiple cards to play.

Michael Rogers

Rogers is a former winner back in 2002. While the route and style of racing has changed from then, it is actually in his favour. Rogers had arguably the best year of his career in 2014 taking two stages of the Giro and a stage of the Tour. Somewhat surprisingly before last year he had not won an individual Grand Tour stage. Eighth in the time trial at the National Championships, while bad luck impacted his road race. With most of his time in Europe likely to be in a support role the Tour Down Under is one of the few chances he will have for himself. The added climbing in the race should suit him.

Tiago Machado

It might not be remembered by many after the close battle between Gerrans and Valverde but Machado finished on the podium in 2012. Machado backed that up finishing ninth in 2013 and after a year away from the race is back hoping to find himself on the podium again. Had a very strong 2014 season winning Tour de Slovenia and finishing 3rd Criterium International, 4th Tour of California and 6th Giro del Trentino. A strong climber who has proven to be a strong performer at the race, with two uphill finishes expect a strong ride.

Gorka Izaguirre and Movistar

After winning the team World Tour rankings for the past two years Movistar returns to Australia looking to get their season off to a good start. Izaguirre has a strong record here including finishing seventh in his last appearance in the race. A strong climber and with two uphill finishes expect to see the Spanish team in the mix. A wildcard could be 2013 Tour de l'Avenir winner Ruben Fernandez who is lining up as a World Tour rider for the first time.

George Bennett

The Kiwi climber will ride for LottoNL-Jumbo in 2015 after a year with Cannondale. Bennett could be the surprise packet this year. Finished 15th in 2013 but has had a strong start to the season. Bennett finished fifth at the Tour de Vineyards and the National Championships.

Tim Roe

Spent two years with BMC and another with their development team but had a difficult time with injury. Took the step back to continental level with Budget Forklifts but has now signed with Drapac. Was a consistent performer in the Australian National Road Series last year and looks ready to return to compete with the best. Very strong on the climbs and Drapac will no doubt be looking to perform in front of a home crowd. The team is not short of talent with former winner Martin Kohler, stage winner Will Clarke plus Travis Meyer.

Trek Factory Racing

The name to watch on Trek Factory racing might just be Daniel McConnell. The name might not be familiar to many road cycling fans but McConnell won a bronze medal in mountain biking at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. Hasn't spent much time on the road but finished second on the final stage of the Herald Sun Tour to Arthur’s Seat in 2013. 22 year old Calvin Watson, who won the Sun Tour in 2013 also has a chance to step up.


After three years at the pro-continental level Spanish climber David de la Cruz has made the step up to the World Tour. The two uphill finishes suit de la Cruz who will no doubt be looking to take advantage of the opportunity. In Pieter Serry the team has a second option for the general classification.

Ag2r La Mondiale

The team has won the race four times in the past and bring a team of climbers that put them in with a chance of making it five. Giro stage winner Domenico Pozzovivo and Tour de France stage winners Blel Kadri and Christophe Riblon give the team a number of options. With two uphill finishes in the race this year the team have a strong chance of success.

Martin Elmiger

2007 winner Elmiger returns with IAM Cycling who will make their World Tour debut. The experienced Elmiger knows what it takes to win and combined with David Tanner and Stef Clement the team has multiple options to play.

Other names to watch: Jussi Veikkanen, Maxime Bouet, Kristijan Durasek, Tsgabu Grmay and David Tanner.


The number of stages for the sprinters have been in decline of late but there is still a number of opportunities for the sprinters.

Marcel Kittel: After winning eight stages of the Tour de France, Kittel has announced himself as the man to beat in sprints. Has been to the race the past two years and is yet to really come close to winning a stage.

Heinrich Haussler: Hasn't quite found the form he has in 2009 but the signs are that Haussler is back. Won the Australian National Championship on a hilly course after outsprinting Caleb Ewan. It could be just the confidence boost Haussler needs.

Steele Von Hoff: Left without a contract when Garmin refused to give him a definitive answer. Eventually signed with continental team NFTO. Has had a strong start to the season after defending his criterium title ahead of Caleb Ewan. Finished third on the opening stage last year and with this form could go even better.

Mark Renshaw: After two seasons riding for himself reverted to Mark Cavendish's leadout man last season. Won a stage of the Tour of Britain showing when he gets an opportunity is ready to deliver.

Gianni Meersman: A fast finisher especially from a select group and with a number of undulating stages here don't be surprised to see him walk away with a stage win.

Greg Henderson: Has bee a crucial part of many of Andre Greipel's wins including his success at the Tour Down Under. This year and with a chance for himself he could take one of his own. The 38 year old too several podiums in 2014 plus finishing seventh at the Commonwealth Games. Won the final stage of the Bay Crits earlier this month.

Wouter Wippert: Won stages of the New Zealand Cycle Classic, Tour de Taiwan, Tour of Japan, Tour de Kumano, Tour of China II and Tour of Hainan. In his first World Tour race the former Tour de l'Avenir stage winner will look to start 2015 where he left off. Strong support from leadout specialist Graeme Brown.

Chris Sutton: Has had a quiet few seasons but after winning the Japan Cup criterium at the end of 2014 things looks to be turning around for Sutton. A crash ruled him out of the race last year but the 2010 stage winner will look to return to his best this year.

Juan Jose Lobato: Won a stage of Tour de Wallonie and Vuelta Burgos towards the end of 2014 and had eight other podium finishes. One of the big improvers and his fourth place at Milano-Sanremo shows he is ready to take a big win.

Giacomo Nizzolo: Won a stage of the Tour de San Luis and Tour de Wallonie in 2014. Doesn't have the speed of some of the pure sprinters but the undulating stages here should suit him and take a number of other sprinters out of contention.

Niccolo Bonifazio: The 21 year old finished 2014 strongly winning Coppa Agostoni and three stages of the Tour of Hainan.

Roberto Ferrari: The Giro stage winner is perhaps most well known for the crash that took Mark Cavendish out of contention on stage three in 2012. Numerous top fives the past two seasons but hasn't taken a single win.

Other names to watch: Daryl Impey, Silvan Dillier, Nathan Haas, Barry Markus, Bert-Jan Lindeman, Kenny De Haes, Lorrenzo Manzin and Neil Van der Ploeg.
 © 2016