EF Education First-Drapac will start the 2018 WorldTour season at the Santos Tour Down Under with a roster of opportunists who hope to excel in both the general classification and on daily stage win hunts.
Five of the seven riders hail from the southern hemisphere, with Australians Simon Clarke, Will Clarke, Brendan Canty and Mitch Docker joining Kiwi Tom Scully for the six-day race. Spaniard Daniel Moreno and American Logan Owen, making his WorldTour debut, round out the squad.
"We looked at Down Under and wanted to send the best possible team to this particular race," sport director Tom Southam said in a statement released by the team. "I've always thought you need Australians or neo-pros, which is who we have going.
"This year, we said, 'OK, we're just going to go with as many Australians as we can,' which is good. They're always in shape this time of year, which means they'll be motivated. With those guys, we have a really nice team, quite well balanced," Southam said.
Canty and Moreno will take up the team's general classification banner, while the rest look for their own opportunities to shine.
"I think I have a pretty clear idea of how things are going to go, but every now and again the race is surprising," Southam said. "I think it's a good route. It's different from the last few years in terms of the two hard days back-to-back, which is nice. I'm looking forward to getting out there and getting it going."
EF Education First-Drapac for the Santos Tour Down Under: Simon Clarke, Will Clarke, Brendan Canty, Mitch Docker, Daniel Moreno, Logan Owen, and Tom Scully.
Fernández leads the line for Movistar
Rubén Fernández will make his return to racing at the Tour Down Under this month following a challenging and injury plagued 2017 season. The former Tour de l'Avenir winner will lead a youthful Movistar team across the six-stage race. The 26-year-old has recovered from a broken jaw sustained in a training ride crash and is aiming for a third top-ten overall result in Adelaide.
"I'm feeling well at the moment and I'm excited to get back to Australia - the Santos Tour Down Under suits me well and I like the event," said Fernández. "I don't really know how I'll do in this race because I've spent almost five months without any racing, but we'll try to do our best and build up some form before other big races coming up later on. The Santos Tour Down Under has always been good to me."
Joining Fernández on the start line is a mix of young and experienced riders. Portuguese duo Nuno Bico and Nelson Oliveira, German Jasha Sütterlin are the three non-Spanish riders selected for the race. New signing Jaime Castrillo, Carlos Barbero, and Jorge Arcas complete the roster.
Movistar for the Santos Tour Down Under: Carlos Barbero, Nuno Bico, Jasha Sutterlin, Rubén Fernández, Jaime Castrillo, Nelson Oliveira and Jorge Arcas.
Balanced Sunweb squad for Tour Down Under
Team Sunweb has confirmed its seven-rider Tour Down Under squad via its social media channels. The balanced team includes riders capable of challenging for stage wins and the orche jersey.
Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race defending champion Nikias Arndt and Phil Bahuas will lead the line for the sprints at the race. Classics specialists Mike Teunissen adds power to the sprint train.
Criterium du Dauphine best young rider of 2017, Sam Oomen, Chad Haga, Chris Hamilton, and Michael Storer provide climbing options for the team. Stage four and five are the key GC days of the race and the climb up Willunga Hill, in particular, is expected to shape the general classification. The quartet will look to work together and take on their climbing rivals.
While Australian riders Hamilton and new-signing Michael Stoter line out for their home WorldTour race, compatriots Michael Matthews and Jai Hindley will start their seasons at a later date.
Team Sunweb for the Santos Tour Down Under: Nikias Arndt, Phil Bauhaus, Chad Haga, Chris Hamilton, Sam Oomen, Michael Storer and Mike Teunissen.