A nice little 135km growler of a day is set to start the 2013 World Tour off with a proper bang at the season-opening Tour Down Under. Join The Roar from 11:30am for live updates.
The Aussies will be champing at the bit for this one. The Europeans and Americans – many, in any case – will be a little less keen to suffer in the expected 30 degree heat over the lumpy route from Prospect to Lobethal.
The riders will head out past the Adelaide velodrome then straight to the hills of Golden Grove. No rest for the wicked around here, I’m afraid.
At first glance the hills that come early on don’t look much on the profile map, but at an average of somewhere in the region of 5% for more than 10km, they are hard enough to test the legs of the peloton, that’s for sure.
Those who’ve had their Weetbix will be looking to sneak off the front here to try to snatch the first and only King of the Mountains points of the day on offer, at the top of Checker Hill.
Might we see Andy Schleck and Philippe Gilbert have a blast? Hopefully, as it’ll be a shame for them to have come all this way just to sit in the pack!
Be great for the crowds too, though the Belgian rider from BMC Racing, who has his first outing in his rainbow jersey on the World Tour in 2013 today, is said to be in condition to go for a high spot on the overall, so he may want to keep his powder dry.
Then it’s onwards and indeed upwards most of the time towards Lobethal, which the riders will pass through twice before the final sprint for the line.
The three sprint points on offer come as the riders pass through Charleston, and again it’s possible someone from an early break will take those. The hills though won’t really stretch the peloton and we should expect to see it all come together, with Lotto-Belisol in particular chasing down any break hard.
The fans gathered in Lobethal should see a group sprint finish, with the usual suspects at the front. Watch out in particular for Marcel Kittel (Argos-Shimano), Matt Goss (Orica-GreenEDGE) and the in-form Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol) here, as these sprinters like a tough finale.
Hang on to your hats folks, here we go!