The Frenchman, signed from FDJ in the off-season, was on a training ride in Brisbane with team leader Chris Froome when he was told to literally stop pedalling and head to the airport. He flew to Adelaide, linked up with his teammates and survived the heat of stage one.
“It’s been a bit of a surprise. I was already in Australia for a training camp because I was already down to do the Herald Sun Tour,” he told Cyclingnews after the stage.
“I was on a ride with Chris Froome and the trainer was following us in the car behind and then after two hours he pulled alongside me and said ‘Kenny we’ve got to stop training because we need you to take a plane to Adelaide’.”
Stage one of the Tour Down Under was marked by high temperatures, an early one-man break and a hectic sprint won by Caleb Ewan. While the heat caused a reduction in race distance, Elissonde made it through without a hitch.
“Today was okay. I was a bit lucky because there was just one guy in the breakaway. It was maybe easier today than if it had been out for five hours riding with Froome. For sure today was easier than if I’d stayed training with him.”
“I was planning to do a week and a half and then fly back for the Cadel Race and then the Sun Tour but I only did three days. But it was a good block of training.”