Tour Down Under hits Radelaide

Tim Renowden Columnist

By Tim Renowden, Tim Renowden is a Roar Expert

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    Adelaide. A city that’s allegedly so boring, even the jokes about how boring it is are pretty dull.

    I last visited Adelaide in my student days, to compete in the Australian University Games (the greatest pretence for a piss-up yet invented) and found to my delight that the local night life narrowly shaded the previous year’s host city, Ballarat.

    That is to say that at least we didn’t see any fights.

    Of course, this being the week of the Tour Down Under, the city can wear its ‘Radelaide’ tag with pride, and without irony. The carnival is in town: the best bike racers and their entourages, the World Tour’s sponsors and hangers-on, and fans from all over Australia have descended on the city of churches for a week of bikes, sunshine and probably a few bottles of the local red.

    And what a week of racing it promises to be.

    This is really a sprinters’ race, with most of the stages being relatively short and flat to mildly lumpy. The race has only two really challenging climbs, being the Corkscrew in stage two and Adelaide’s version of Alpe d’Huez, Old Willunga Hill in stage five (well, the course climbs Old Willunga Hill twice, but you know).

    The majority of the stages should be decided by bunch sprints. As you might expect, most of the teams have opted to balance their squads towards the fast men.

    Lotto-Belisol’s Andre Greipel, consistently January’s fastest man, has already shown he and his extraordinarily professional leadout train are ready to rumble, taking out Sunday’s criterium prelude in style.

    This squad has been together for a few seasons now, and I think the battle between them and Omega Pharma-Quickstep for sprint supremacy this season will be a highlight. For this race, I think Lotto-Belisol will take the honours, in the absence of Mark Cavendish.

    Other sprinters I’ll be watching closely are of course Orica-GreenEDGE’s Matt Goss, who showed his first signs of good form on Sunday after a flat Jayco Herald-Sun Tour and nationals; Tyler Farrar and Aussie neo-pro Steele Von Hoff (Garmin-Sharp); Mark Renshaw (Blanco); Andrea Guardini (Astana) in his first season in the World Tour; JJ Rojas (Movistar); Yauheni Hutarovich (AG2R); and Marcel Kittel (Argos Shimano).

    Having said that, I reckon the Willunga Hill summit finish of stage five will be enough to drag the overall victory away from the pure sprinters and into the hands of a puncheur like Simon Gerrans (OGE), Philippe Gilbert (BMC), or Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky).

    Or perhaps a climber like Thomas De Gendt (Vacansoleil), Matthew Lloyd (Lampre-Merida) or Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo-Tinkoff) could steal a win?

    And then of course there’s Andy Schleck (Radioshack Leopard Trek) who is returning from an absolutely horrid 2012 and will be eager to show that he’s back in the picture for the Grand Tours. The Tour Down Under is probably not hard enough for Andy to prosper, but it will be interesting to see how he approaches his return to top-flight racing and a new season.

    It will be also interesting to see how he copes without his suspended brother Frank, who is still waiting to hear what his punishment will be for testing positive to a banned diuretic during the Tour de France.

    Andy’s public comments relating to Oprah Winfrey’s recent guest (‘he who must not be named’ or ‘HWMNBN’ for short) were less convincing than many fans might have hoped. Let’s hope his lukewarm responses to the HWMNBN scandal do not reflect a sense of ‘there but for the Grace of God go I’.

    Nevertheless, cycling does move on, and the Tour Down Under will showcase the talents of many of the new generation of stars. Adelaide will be awesome this week. It’s not often I say that.

    Go UniSA!

    Tim Renowden
    Tim Renowden

    Tim Renowden has been following professional cycling closely since Indurain won his first Tour. An ex-runner, now a club grade bike racer, Tim tweets about sport at @megabicicleta.

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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • Roar Rookie

      January 22nd 2013 @ 8:51am
      Justin Curran said | January 22nd 2013 @ 8:51am | ! Report

      I would love to see Gilbert and Edvald Boasson Hagen in form and tearing it up, but I suspect it is a little too early in the season for those guys. And can we expect the usual early season DNF from Andy? I am inclined to think we will be treated to the usual TDU domination from Greipel in the sprints with Matt Goss in his favoured runner up position.

      • Columnist

        January 22nd 2013 @ 9:48am
        Tim Renowden said | January 22nd 2013 @ 9:48am | ! Report

        You’re probably right, but Gilbert may be a bit more eager for early-season success after missing out completely during the spring classics in 2012. He has a rainbow jersey to honour, too.

        • January 22nd 2013 @ 10:18am
          Kasey said | January 22nd 2013 @ 10:18am | ! Report

          It is an honour to host the rainbow Jerseyagain.
          I think there are about 25 different National Champions jerseys pedalling around Adelaide this week which shows the high regard the pro peloton has for the TDU.

    • January 22nd 2013 @ 9:26am
      Kasey said | January 22nd 2013 @ 9:26am | ! Report

      Cycling is and always will be bigger than one rider big enough to take hits and keep moving on….It was bigger than Coppi, it was bigger than Merckx it is bigger than Armstrong. Cycling was knocked around by operation Puerto and the Festina affair yet it continues onwards and draws fans to its graceful beauty season upon season. It is growing in this country year on year. Once again rAdelaide will turn on a great show for the world to see. Once again this year more bikes than cars will be sold. Cycling is on the up and January is a great time to be a cycling fan in Australia.

      • Columnist

        January 22nd 2013 @ 9:42am
        Tim Renowden said | January 22nd 2013 @ 9:42am | ! Report

        Damn straight. It’s still a beautiful sport, and there is a new generation pushing through. It’s a season for renewal!

      • Roar Rookie

        January 22nd 2013 @ 9:46am
        Justin Curran said | January 22nd 2013 @ 9:46am | ! Report

        Amen

    • Roar Pro

      January 22nd 2013 @ 12:13pm
      aggregated drupe said | January 22nd 2013 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

      Andre Greipel will win the most stages and Phillpe Gilbert will win

      • January 22nd 2013 @ 12:33pm
        Kasey said | January 22nd 2013 @ 12:33pm | ! Report

        I’m not so sure, the TDU is now a 6 stage race instead of a 4 stage race, meaning the pure Sprinters like Greipel will find it more difficult to challenge overall. This years title is likely to go to a good all-round performer. A Super Domestique perhaps?

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