Newly crowned Australian road champion Simon Gerrans is the Cyclingnews forum users favourite to win the Tour Down Under, beating Team Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen. The GreenEdge rider had nine votes with Boasson Hagen second with eight votes.
The podium could be rounded out by any one of three riders who received three votes each: Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda), and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team).
Gerrans, who won the race in 2006, is the top choice because for one, he is one of the few who has shown his form already this season. Added to this is the perceived motivation for GreenEdge to win its “homeland” race, which is also its first WorldTour race.
As froome19 said, “you have to fancy Gerrans with GreenEdge being super motivated to get a result in their first stage race and it's their home race and the fact that on the basis of his victory in the nationals he's evidently on good form (something we can't really say for the other riders).”
The changed course this year, with its stage finish atop Willunga Hill will also play a role, michielveedeebee pointed out. “You also have the finish on Willunga hill instead of 20 km after they pass it, Gerrans is good on finishes like that and it gives the puncheurs a chance to put some good time in to the sprinters.”
Runner-up to Gerrans is Boasson Hagen, who “can mix it in the sprints and is strong enough for 'The Hill'”, said nevada. It is a “perfect race for EBH, who usually finds his form pretty fast. He can pick up bonus seconds in the sprints, and unlike Goss he could even win the Willunga stage,” according to forum user theyoungest.
Or, as Richeypen put it, “If EBH has any sort of form and wants to win it, it will be very hard to stop him.”
Of the three third-place finishers, only Haussler is Australian. “Capable sprinter, won't lose too much time up Willunga and judging by his ride in the Aussie Nats appears motivated (and lean),” said Spider1964.
Valverde is picked to take the win “because it would be a nice comeback present” (Jens_attacks). Van Avermaet is a favourite “because Willunga Hill suits him and it's about time he'd win something nice," said Dekker_Tifosi.
Willunga Hill is the main ground the sprinters aren't the top picks this year. Two-time winner Andre Greipel, now with Lotto-Belisol, got only two mentions, but is expected to take stage wins.