Tour Down Under 2017: Preview
Jan 14 2017 08:47 pm CET

Tour Down Under 2017: Preview
Tour Down Under 2017: Preview
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SANTOS TOUR DOWN UNDER

The opening of the 2017 season is approaching and the excitement is building ahead of the Tour Down Under. The first Australian race of the calendar will take place between the 17th and the 22nd of January.

The 2016 edition of the race saw a dominant performance of Simon Gerrans, who got the leader's jersey from stage three and didn't let go of it. On top of that, only Australians got stage victories, which was a second in the race's history.

Let's start with a little bit of that history. The Tour Down Under is a race that takes place in and around the city of Adelaide, in the south of Australia, and first took place in 1999. In 2005 the race was the higher ranked event outside Europe and in 2008 it became the first ProTour race in the country.

Throughout the years, Australians have dominated the race with 11 victories in total, followed by only two for German and Spanish riders. It is also worth remembering that the leader's jersey in this race is colored ochre, which is often associated with the country.

The Tour Down Under has become a perfect opportunity to see the new kits, the new bikes, the new teams, some of the new riders and the familiar faces of the peloton.

The last three years of the race have shown a battle between local team Orica-Scott and BMC Racing team, with the victories of Simon Gerrans and Rohan Dennis. This year both riders are also going to be there so we will possibly see some Aussie fights on the road.

Gerrans is back trying to defend his title and become the Tour Down Under champion for the fifth time. He is the big favorite and if he wins the race he would become the first rider to take the victory two years in a row.

Though Gerrans is one of the main candidates to take the title and is very motivated to do so, his teammate Esteban Chaves also has a chance. The Colombian will have a free role in the team and will definitely put to test the work and talent that has taken him to the podium of two Grand Tours in the past season.

Along with Gerrans and Dennis, Richie Porte is another big local favorite for the Australian race. The rider will also have the support of the domestic new Road Race champion Miles Scotson and his past performances in the decisive stage of Willunga Hill put him in the favorites' deck.

Colombian Sergio Henao, who was third in the overall classification of the race in 2016, also arrives to Australia as one of the candidates to take the title. But he shares the favoritism with his teammate and Team Sky leader, Gerraint Thomas who will want the best possible start to a season in which he will also go for the general classification in the Giro d'Italia.

Other favorites for bookmakers and experts include Michael Woods of Cannondale-Drapac, Lachlan Morton of Dimension Data, Ben Swift of UAE Abu Dhabi, Peter Sagan of Bora-hansgrohe, Robert Gesink of LottoNL-Jumbo, Luis León Sánchez of Astana and Wilco Kelderman of Team Sunweb.

Now let's have a quick view at the route (To see the complete stage profiles click here). The first stage is hilly but if everything goes according to plan it will be good for sprinters.

Stage two has the potential of being one of the decisive moments for the race with a route that includes several climbs, including the uphill finish of Paracombe, just 1.87 kilometers long but with an average gradient of 6.7 per cent. It was here that Dennis got enough time for his final victory back in 2015.

The next two stages are set for the sprinters, although some winds during stage three can cause some breaks in the peloton and give some of the candidates extra minutes over their direct rivals.

Stage five is going to be one of the most exciting of the entire race because it includes two ascents up Willunga Hill, a climb that is three kilometers long and has an average gradient of 7.4 per cent. Porte won here in the last three years but it hasn't been enough to take the overall victory.

The last stage is 90 kilometers long and takes place on a six kilometers long circuit in the city of Adelaide. The course will once again give a chance to the sprinters.

The Tour Down Under will provide a good start to the season and a chance to start seeing the riders that are set to shine throughout the entire 2017.
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