Tour Down Under: Stage 1 cycling live race updates, blog

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    The 2017 UCI WorldTour finally gets underway in Adelaide with the Tour Down Under. Stage 1 takes the riders on a 145-kilometre trip, you can join The Roar for live coverage from 11:55am (AEDT).

    The stage starts out from Unley, riding to the north-east for about 85 kilometres, before finishing on three laps of a 26.5-kilometre circuit that links Williamstown and Cockatoo Valley.

    There is one categorised climb on the day, leading into Kersbrook and coming inside the first 40 kilometres – while it won’t have any significance in the outcome of the stage, it will decide who becomes the first leader in the king of the mountains classification – watch for the UniSA team to attack hard early.

    The final circuit itself doesn’t have any categorised climbs, but there is certainly enough up and down to keep the riders interested and the sprinters nervous.

    The first half of the circuit takes the riders more or less on an undulating uphill turn, before the final three kilometres of the circuit, which they will pass three times before the finish line, which is on a downhill false flat, ensuring a fast end.

    Being on a circuit, this will certainly suit the smarter riders who are able to learn something each time around, and the bigger teams.

    For that reason, Orica-Scott are in a good position here. Caleb Ewan, while still young, has plenty of skill and his team, looking after Simon Gerrans and Esteban Chavez, have more than a couple of reasons to stay out of trouble.

    The problem for Ewan is going to be getting the support he needs, but on a downhill run to the line he can easily jump on closest competitor Peter Sagan’s Bora train.

    Sagan will be led out to the line by his new team, with Sam Bennett and Jay McCarthy the men likely to lead the charge.

    Mark Renshaw is another rider who can’t be counted out in the run to the finish. While he is normally the lead out man for Mark Cavendish, he is plan A here and despite never having outrageous success in Australia, Nathan Haas and Tyler Farrar means he has a strong support cast.

    Others to watch out for include Tom Jelte-Slagter (Cannondale), Australian national champion Miles Scotson (BMC), Matti Breschel (Astana), Ben Swift (UAE) and the Uni-SA team who will try to cause an upset.

    Prediction
    The first stage of the year is always a difficult one to predict, but the course does suit Sagan right until the last couple of kilometres. A downhill sprint will play into his bike handling skills, but not so much the pace ones.

    Caleb Ewan, who handles the bike with the best of them should take out the first stage of 2017 in a bunch sprint ahead of Sagan and Mark Renshaw.

    Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of the first stage of the Tour Down Under from 11:55am (AEDT) and don’t forget to drop your own comments in the section below.

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    One of the mainstays of The Roar, Scott Pryde has written over 1,100 articles covering everything from rugby league to basketball, from tennis to cricket. You can follow him on Twitter @sk_pryde.