The 2014 UCI WorldTour season kicks off on January 21-26 with the 16th edition of the Santos Tour Down Under in Australia.
The six-stage race takes place in and around Adelaide, capital city of South Australia. It’s summer Down Under, allowing the northern hemisphere professionals to swap the relentless rain, cold and wind of Europe for warm sun to ‘ease’ their legs into racing.
It’s hard to pick a winner from the start list, as many riders are still finding form after a winter break – and they come up against ‘local’ Australian riders who are still racing in their summer season.
The race usually commences with a sprinter taking the honours, with time bonuses subsequently dictating who gets to wear the orange leader’s jersey, particularly as the race features neither high mountains or a time trial.
That said, the toughest day is the penultimate stage, which includes two ascents of Willunga Hill. It was on the same stage last year that Dutchman Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco, now signed to Garmin-Sharp but not at this year’s race) relieved Briton Geraint Thomas (Sky) of the overall lead.
Thomas finished the race in third place, along with a win on stage two, and goes into the 2014 edition as co-leader of Sky’s team alongside Richie Porte.
The race concludes with its traditional short-and-sharp circuit-based finale around the streets of Adelaide itself.
Europcar will make its debut as a WorldTour team, but without French star Thomas Voeckler who broke his collarbone in a training crash prior to the race.
The Australian Orica-GreenEdge has fielded a particularly strong line-up in its ‘home’ race which includes double former winner Simon Gerrans.
The Tour Down Under is preceded by the one-day, warm-up People’s Choice Classic road race on Sunday, January 19, which usually features the same start list of riders.
Cycling Weekly will be posting online reports and photo galleries from each 2014 Tour Down Under stage.
Tour Down Under 2014: Race reports
Reporting by Sophie Smith
Stage five: Porte takes queen stage, Gerrans back in lead
Stage four: Greipel takes sprint, Evans maintains lead
Stage three: Evans takes stage and race lead
Stage two: Ulissi wins, Gerrans keeps overall lead
Stage one: Gerrans takes first blood
People’s Choice Classic: Kittel pips Greipel to win
Tour Down Under 2014: Photo galleries
Photography by Graham Watson
Stage five, by Graham Watson
Stage four, by Graham Watson
Stage three, by Graham Watson
Stage two, by Graham Watson
Stage one, by Graham Watson
People’s Choice Classic, by Graham Watson
Tour Down Under 2014: Stages
Stage one, Tuesday January 21, Nuriootpa to Angaston, 135km, winner: Simon Gerrans
Stage two, Wednesday January 22, Prospect to Stirling, 150km
Stage three, Thursday January 23, Norwood to Campbelltown, 145km
Stage four, Friday January 24, Unley to Victor Harbor, 148.5km
Stage five, Saturday January 25, McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill, 151.5km
Stage six, Sunday January 26, Adelaide to Adelaide (circuit race), 85.5km
Tour Down Under 2014: Teams
Down Under 2014 start list
Ag2r La Mondiale
Drapac Professional Cycling (wildcard)
Tour Down Under 2014: British riders
Andrew Fenn (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
Luke Rowe (Sky)
Ian Stannard (Sky)
Geraint Thomas (Sky)
Tour Down Under 2014: TV schedule
Sky Sports is scheduled to show live coverage and highlights of the 2014 Tour Down Under.
Stage 1: Tuesday, January 21
Live coverage on Sky Sports 1 from 2am-4am. Repeated at 8am on Sky Sports 3, 12pm on Sky Sports 2 and 3pm on Sky Sports 2. Highlights on Sky Sports 3 at 7pm and 10.30pm.
Stage 2: Wednesday, January 22
Live coverage on Sky Sports 1 from 2.30am-4.30am. Repeated at 8am on Sky Sports 3 and 12pm and 3pm on Sky Sports 2. Highlights on Sky Sports 3 at 7pm and 11pm.
Stage 3: Thursday, January 23
Live coverage on Sky Sports 1 from 2.30am-4.30am. Repeated at 8am on Sky Sports 3 and 12pm on Sky Sports 2. Highlights on Sky Sports 3 at 7pm and 11.30pm.
Stage 4: Friday, January 24
Live coverage on Sky Sports 1 from 2.30am-4.30am. Repeated at 8am on Sky Sports 3 and 12pm on Sky Sports 2. Highlights on Sky Sports 3 at 6.30pm and 11.30pm
Stage 5: Saturday, January 25
Live coverage on Sky Sports 1 from 12.30am-4.30am. Repeated on Sky Sports 3 at 12pm. Highlights on Sky Sports 3 at 5.30pm and 10pm.
Stage 6: Sunday, January 26
Live coverage on Sky Sports 1 from 1.30am-4.30am. Repeated at 8am on Sky Sports 3, 12pm on Sky Sports 2 and 2.30pm on Sky Sports 4. Highlights at 6.30pm on Sky Sports 2.
Tour Down Under: Jerseys
Ochre (orange) jersey: Overall race leader
White jersey: King of the mountains leader
Blue jersey: Sprint classification leader
Black jersey: Best young rider
Red jersey: Most aggressive rider
Geraint Thomas and Tom-Jelte Slagter in the 2013 Tour Down Under
Tour Down Under: Last year’s top ten (2013)
1. Tom-Jelte Slagter (Blanco) in 18-28-32
2. Javier Moreno (Movistar) at 17secs
3. Geraint Thomas (Sky) at 25secs
4. Ion Izagirre (Euskaltel Euskadi) at 32secs
5. Ben Hermans (RadioShack Leopard) at 34secs
6. Wilco Kelderman (Blanco)
7. Gorka Izagirre (Euskaltel Euskadi) at 36secs
8. Daniele Pietropolli (Lampre-Merida)
9. Tiago Machado (RadioShack Leopard) at 38secs
10. Jussi Veikkanen (FDJ) at 41secs
Tour Down Under: Previous winners
2013 Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco
2012 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEdge
2011 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo
2010 Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia
2009 Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step
2008 Andre Greipel (Ger) High Road
2007 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2r
2006 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2r
2005 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Liberty Seguros
2004 Patrick Jonker (Aus) UniSA
2003 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Ag2r
2002 Michael Rogers (Aus) Australia Institute of Sport
2001 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole
2000 Gilles Maignan (Fra) Ag2r
1999 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole