Peter Sagan has arrived in Australia for the Santos Tour Down Under, with his Bora-Hansgrohe team confirming he will have the backing of a strong squad that includes new signings Pete Kennaugh and Daniel Oss, plus fellow sprinter Sam Bennett. Also in the seven-rider squad for the opening WorldTour race of 2018 are Jay McCarthy, Maciej Bodnar and Rüdiger Selig.
Sagan will make his season debut in the rainbow jersey after ending his 2017 season immediately after winning the World Championships in Bergen in order to spend time with his wife Katerina and son Marlon, who was born in late October.
Sagan made his 2017 debut at the Tour Down Under after getting an early taste of the Australian race back in 2010 when he was a young rider with Liquigas. He has gone on to win 101 races, including three world titles, but he has yet to win a stage in Australia. He finished third and fourth in stages in 2010, and finished second on three occasions last year as Caleb Ewan dominated the sprints.
This year, Sagan will face competition from Ewan once again, with Andre Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) already confirmed on the growing start list.
Sagan and Bora-Hansgrohe were part of the first wave of riders to arrive in Adelaide for the Tour Down Under on Friday. Other teams will arrive from Europe in the coming days to acclimatise to the Australian summer, while most Australian riders will be in action at the national championships road race on Sunday.
The six-day men’s Tour Down Under begins on January 16, with the People’s Choice Classic criterium offering a warm-up race on January 14. The four-day women’s Tour Down Under begins on January 11 and precedes the men’s race.
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Race director Mike Turtur is hoping to see fight for victory on Willunga Hill on stage 5, just as he did back in 2010.
"We expect another aggressive showing at the race from Sagan," Turtur said.
"Seven years ago we saw Sagan attack over the last climb on Willunga Hill, finishing fifth, battling it out alongside Cadel Evans, Alejandro Valverde and Luis Leon Sanchez. The race and the fans are in store for something special again when he tackles the climb this year."
Kennaugh and Oss will make their debut in new Bora-Hansgrohe colours. Kennaugh joins from Team Sky, while Oss was brought in from BMC to bolster Sagan’s Classics squad.