In continuation to the plan he set for the sadly defunct HTC-Highroad team in previous years, Allan Peiper took the Garmin-Cervelo team for some wine tasting – not wine drinking, he insisted – in the Barossa valley ahead of the Santos Tour Down Under (January 17-22).
"It's different line up but it will also be a different race this year", Peiper told Cyclingnews at the Jacob's Creek visitor center while his riders Heinrich Haussler, Robert Hunter, Nathan Haas, Andreas Klier, Ryder Hesjedal, Martijn Maaskant and Jack Bauer finished their recce of stage 4 to finish in Tanunda on January 20. Peiper remembers with nostalgia his "fantastic team with [Mark] Cavendish, [Matt] Goss and [Bernhard] Eisel" but he has moved on with the recent changes on the pro cycling scene. The Australian also guided Andre Greipel to his two overall wins (2008, 2010) at the Tour Down Under.
"I don't think it's a race for sprinters anymore", Peiper stated. "With the uphill finish in Willunga Hill, the climbers will have the upper hand." Garmin-Cervelo has two different cards to play with Haussler and Hesjedal. The lanky Canadian has prepared for the Australian event in Hawaii and asked for being lined up at the Santos Tour Down Under.
"As soon as the Willunga Hill top finish was announced, I asked my team to do this race again", said Hesjedal who rode in South Australian on only one occasion (2009, 11th on GC) during his 11 years long career. "I think my form is ok. I'm building it up for the Ardennes classics and the Giro. The team has given me the opportunity to ride the Giro for GC, the course suits me this year. I only rode the Tour de France in the past two years and it's the good time to do two Grand Tours again." Hesjedal finished 7th in the 2010 Tour de France, a race for which he's got high ambitions again.
"I can have a good condition at the start of the year and the Tour Down Under is an important race", the Canadian added. "I haven't been thinking of my chances to win. The Willunga Hill finish suits me but it suits other riders as well. I'll enter the race in support of Haussler."
"We've got multiple options", Peiper confirmed. "For sprinters like Haussler to be in with a run, they need to have 20 or 30 seconds up their sleeves by the time they get to Willunga Hill." Shall the time bonus been split between the top sprinters in contention (Goss, Greipel, Henderson, Haussler, Freire, Boasson Hagen, Sutton, Petacchi, Bennati, Matthews, Renshaw, Rojas, Hutarovitch, Van Hummel, Ciolek), it might well favor climbers like Hesjedal on the penultimate day.