Tour Down Under race guide

15 Jan 2017

Tour Down Under race guide

There are few better places to start the cycling season than Australia. Wide roads, varied terrain and perfect weather combine to produce exciting racing and the season’s WorldTour opener, the Tour Down Under (January 17-22), is always fiercely competitive.

It means a bleary-eyed start for the British audience, with stages finishing in the early hours in the UK, but it’s worth the alarm call to watch the peloton do battle on the sunny south coast of Australia.

Race overview

Starting with a crowd-pleasing criterium around the streets of central Adelaide a typical mix of sprint stages and tougher climbing tests follow, before the race returns to the fearsome Wilunga Hill on stage five, where the 2017 crown is likely to be won. It wraps up on stage six with a 90km blast back on Adelaide’s city streets.
Sergio Henao: Third in Oz last season

Sergio Henao: Third in Oz last season

Key stages

To whet the climbers’ appetites ahead of Wilunga Hill there’s a tasty finish on stage two that should cause some fireworks. The peloton will pass through Sterling five times before heading for Adelaide’s hills, where the bunch is likely to fracture over the King of the Mountains climb up Torrens Hill Road, setting the stage up for a thrilling finish into Paracombe.
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Three days later the race heads for Wilunga Hill, a 2.9km climb at seven per cent - far from the toughest ascent the peloton will face across the campaign but a stiff early-season test that routinely decides the destination of the Tour Down Under’s ochre jersey. The riders will have to tackle the climb twice, with the finish line waiting for them at the top of the second run.
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Our history

Since 2010 the team has never finished outside of the top five at the Tour Down Under, courtesy of Greg Henderson (2010), Ben Swift (2011), Michael Rogers (2012), Geraint Thomas (2013), Richie Porte (2014 & ’15) and Sergio Henao (2016). That’s some record, although the overall win remains elusive - Richie Porte’s second-place finish in 2015 is the team’s best result to date. Last year Henao finished third while picking up the King of the Mountains jersey, while back in 2013 Thomas took a dramatic stage win on his way to finishing third and claiming the points jersey. We also have history on Wilunga courtesy of Porte - the Australian won on the climb in both 2014 and ’15.
Porte: King of Willunga

Porte: King of Willunga

TDU 2015 Willunga highlights

TDU 2015 Willunga highlights

Riders to watch

The ‘King of Wilunga’ Richie Porte is chasing his fourth straight win on the race’s famous climb, although he’s never taken the overall title. After a stop-start first year with BMC, a win in Adelaide would set the Australian up for a strong 2017, but four-time winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) will have something to say about. He’s after his fifth title, although team-mate Esteban Chaves may lead the Australian outfit in his team’s homeland. Both Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Ben Swift (UAE Abu Dhabi) will make their first appearances for their new teams in Australia and are sure to be on the hunt for stage wins.
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Team Sky race numbers:
41. Geraint Thomas
42. Sebastian Henao
43. Sergio Henao
44. Kenny Elissonde
45. Luke Rowe
46. Ian Stannard
47. Danny van Poppel

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