The Tour Down Under, Australia will be the first World Tour Road Cycling race on the calendar and will take place from 14-21 January 2018 – celebrating 20 years of history and travel over 800 kilometres through Adelaide and regional South Australia and features a varied parcours that tips its hat to the race’s past while exploring some new terrain.
In 2018, the Santos Tour Down The first WorldTour race of the season has attracted a star-studded start list of past champions and future contenders. International icons such as triple world champion Peter Sagan, and Australia heroes like Richie Porte and Caleb Ewan, will assemble in Adelaide for the six-stage race.
World champion Peter Sagan headlines the 2018 Tour Down Under start list with former winners Andre Greipel, Tom-Jelte Slagter, Luis Leon Sanchez and the BMC trio Rohan Dennis, Simon Gerrans and Richie Porte add further quality.
As a race that favours bunch sprinters, six-time stage winner Caleb Ewan headlines the list, while Greipel, the Bora duo of Sagan and Sam Bennett, and Elia Viviani who makes his Quick-Step Floors debut, will be out to stop the Mitchelton-Scott rider. A youthful brigade of Phil Bauhaus (Team Sunweb), Simone Consonni (UAE Team Emirates) and Kristoffer Halvorsen (Team Sky) should also feature at the pointy end of stages.
In the battle for the general classification, Richie Porte will start as the favourite. He was third in the Australian national time trial and active throughout the road race leading into the Tour Down Under, showing glimpses of the type of early season form that had him starting last year’s Tour de France as a podium contender.
Teammates Rohan Dennis and Simon Gerrans could also take on overall leadership at BMC in what is a deep squad for the race. The Australian list of GC contenders also includes the likes of Brendan Canty (EF Education First-Drapac), Jay McCarthy (Bora-Hansgrohe), Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data), and Nathan Haas (Katusha-Alpecin). New Zealander George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) is also a contender.
From Europe, the Izagirre brothers Gorka and Ion (Bahrain-Merida) alongside Domenico Pozzovivo, Peter Kennaugh (Bora-Hansgrohe), Pierre Latour (AG2R-La Mondiale), Ruben Fernandez (Movistar), Sam Oomen (Team Sunweb) and the UAE Team Emirates pairing of Diego Ulissi and Rui Costa are riders to watch.
Last year’s best young rider Jhonatan Restrepo (Katusha-Alpecin) and Tour de L’Avenir winner Egan Bernal on his Team Sky debut lead the Colombian charge for the ochre jersey.
Peter Sagan can’t be discounted as an overall contender, and having a rainbow jersey winner of the race could well be the present the race is wishing for.
The 2018 the Santos Women’s Tour race that started on 11 January also celebrates its first year at the UCI 2.1 level
For the first time since the inaugural Tour Down Under in 1999, the race will begin in Port Adelaide. From its location northwest of the city centre, the race heads towards the Barossa wine region for three laps of a finishing circuit in Lyndoch.
Mountains classification points on offer at Humbug Scrub offer an added incentive for the day’s breakaway but with the ochre jersey on the line, anything but a bunch sprint finish would be a surprise. A return of high temperatures could well be on the cards, offering a baking welcome back to racing for the peloton.
People’s Choice Classic – 14 January
Start: 7:15 PM, Wakefield Road, Adelaide
Finish: 8:15 PM ETA, Wakefield Road, Adelaide
Stage 1 – 16 January
Start: 11:00 AM, Port Adelaide
Finish: 2:41 PM ETA, Lyndoch
Stage 2 – 17 January
Start: 11:00 AM, King William Road, Unley
Finish: 3:11 PM ETA, Mount Barker Road, Stirling
Stage 3 – 18 January
Start: 11:00 AM, Colley Tce, Glenelg
Finish: 2:53 PM ETA, The Esplanade, Victor Harbor
Stage 4 – 19 January
Start: 11:30 AM, The Parade, Norwood
Finish: 3:00 PM ETA, Greenhill Road, Uraidla
Stage 5 – 20 January
Start: 11:10 AM, Main Road, McLaren Vale
Finish: 2:58 PM ETA, Brookman Road, Willunga Hill
Stage 6 – 21 January
Start: 1:30 PM, King William Street, Adelaide
Finish: 3:30 PM ETA, King William Street, Adelaide
While there remains the possibility of a GC shake-up, it is more often than not a day without GC drama, with an expected bunch sprint finish.