Some of the biggest names in world cycling have been gathering in Adelaide in recent days ahead of the Santos Tour Down Under, the season’s first World Tour event.
The race gets under way on Tuesday but before that, the peloton will have the chance to blow away the early-season cobwebs with Sunday’s fast 51km Cancer Council Classic criterium in Adelaide. In the meantime, the gathering riders are availing of the opportunity to shake off any lingering jet lag by training in the Adelaide area.
Most eyes are trained firmly on Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) and André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto). The erstwhile teammates will now be fierce and open rivals in the sprint finishes and both men seem in determined mood. The season’s major spoils may well be on offer later on in Italy, France and Copenhagen, but neither rider will want to yield any sort of leeway, even at this early stage.
Plenty of Australian riders will also be looking to have their say on home roads. While the Tour Down Under may traditionally favour the sprinters, Michael Rogers is a hugely popular figure in his home country and he will be keen to show off his new Sky colours. His teammate Simon Gerrans is another man who can be relied on to show some aggression during the race.
As the opening act of an increasingly lengthy season, the Santos Tour Down Under is the also the first opportunity many fans have to see new riders, new kit, new bikes and new sponsors enter the peloton. Among the fresh designs on the streets of Adelaide in recent days have been those of Liquigas-Cannondale, Katusha, HTC-Columbia, Omega Pharma-Lotto and, of course, a first glimpse of the new Movistar kit after Caisse d’Epargne’s replacement as title sponsor.
Enjoy Cyclingnews’ extensive gallery of the peloton preparing for the Santos Tour Down Under here.