Team Sky have revealed the line-up for the Tour Down Under. Richie Porte will be one of the two the team captains in the first World Tour race of the new season. "I want to go to Tour Down Under and perform," said Porte. "As an Aussie it’s the race to win."
Porte will be joined by fellow Australian Chris Sutton, Austria's Bernie Eisel and Great Britain's Ian Stannard, Geraint Thomas and Luke Rowe. Irishman Philip Deignan makes his Team Sky debut in the Tour Down Under. "Everyone is motivated: the Classics guys, Philip in his first race and also Richie. He's been out there in Adelaide and he knows the key stages. It's a strong group," sports director Kurt Asle Arvesen said.
Stannard, Rowe, Thomas, Sutton and Eisel were part of Team Sky in this year's Tour Down Under. Edvald Boasson Hagen won't return to Australia while Mathew Hayman defends the colors of Orica-Greenedge next year. Porte is one of the two newcomers in Team Sky's line-up. The Tasmanian hasn't raced the Tour Down Under since 2011 but is ambitious for next year's edition.
"t used to be a sprinter's race but now there are some good climbs in there like Corkscrew and Willunga. I've spent a bit of time in Adelaide so I know the climbs pretty well. I think if I'm in good form and we have a strong team there – if not me then through Geraint Thomas - we also have a really good chance. He was brilliant there last season so it should be an interesting race," Porte stated on the team's website.
Geraint Thomas returns to the race where he won the second stage from Mount Barker to Rostrevor this year, thus laying the foundations for a third place in the overall classification and winning the points jersey.
Sports director Kurt Asle Arvesen sees opportunities for both Porte as Thomas. "We have a really strong team heading to the Tour Down Under. Both Geraint and Richie have a good chance of being up there.. It’s a nice course and it looks like there will be two key stages again like last year for the GC. We need to be on our toes. We learned our lessons last year that we need to get out there well before the race. That’s what we’re going to do this year. It's always a great way to start the season and we’ll be more than ready for the race," the Norwegian said.
The 16th Tour Down Under features a very strong line up with Cadel Evans returning after three years of absence and former winner Simon Gerrans and André Greipel at the start. This year's winner Tom Jelte Slagter won't defend his title. The new Garmin-Sharp recruit opts for a different build up of his season to be home to see his first child be born at the end of January.