Evans, Porte and Kittel ready for Australian WorldTour opener

Open race with no Gerrans or Greipel

The first WorldTour race of 2015 gets underway in Adelaide, Australia on Monday with a different feel to previous years. The 17th edition of the Tour Down Under will feature a familiar parcours for the peloton with the inclusion of the uphill finishes in Stirling and Willunga Hill and a final day criterium around the streets of Adelaide although with Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) both missing, the opportunity is there for riders to make their mark on the race.

The Corkscrew climb gets a rest in 2015 with race director Mike Turtur introducing a new stage finish in Paracombe which should see the first serious time gaps on the overall classification open up but Willunga Hill looks set to decide the overall classification once again.

Orica-GreenEdge's sports director Matt White rode the Tour Down Under on three occasions during his career, winning a stage in 2005 but in the team car has won the race on three occasions. With no Gerrans, White and GreenEdge are chasing stage wins at the race which is a new approach for the team who have previously come to Adelaide with the GC its sole objective.

White spoke to Cyclingnews how he expects the race to play out day-by-day and his tips for the stage winners.

2015 Tour Down Under stage previews

People's Choice Classic: Adelaide's East End - Adelaide's East End, 51km

Matt White says...

"Day 1 of the WorldTour and everyone, especially the sprint orientated teams, will be keen to start the season with a bang. A nice hit out in front of great crowds is the ideal way to get the WorldTour circus up and running."

Winner - Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin)

Stage one: Tanunda - Campbelltown, 133km

Matt White says:

"After the Cancer Classic the first stage is always a tense affair, how nervous it will be depends a lot on the weather conditions. Obviously it's the first road stage of the year where we'll see the world's best sprinters look to stamp their authority on the race. With the absence of Andre Greipel, the mantle is there to be taken for the fastest man down under straight off the bat

Winner - Marcel Kittel (Giant-Alpecin)

Stage two: Unley - Stirling 150km

Matt White says:

"A pretty traditional stage with slight variations from year-to-year which has been used many times in Tour Down Under.It's a special stage in that it can be won by a strong sprinter or can also be won by a general classification contender."

Winner - There will be someone from Movistar, they will always come out with their guns blazing early-season with the likes of a José Joaquín Rojas. Someone like Ben Swift also has a pretty good chance on a uphill sprint.

Stage three: Norwood - Paracombe, 143km

Matt White says:

"This is a new stage, although this area has been used in the past, with a brand new finish. It's a deceptively hard finish when you are coming down the gorge and turning right as it's very steep at the bottom and if you're not in the front of the peloton, then you are asking for trouble. From the last corner to the finish line it's about 1.5km but it's one of those finishes where we will see the first significant splits in the bunch.‎

"Again, another crucial stage which replaces the Corkscrew stage and one that the climbers or very, very punchy riders will battle out for the win. The biggest threat I see on the stage is Cadel Evans (BMC) and Richie Porte (Team Sky). It's a stage where the climbers really have to make their make, if you want to win Tour Down Under you have to feature on this stage."

Winner - Watch the likes of Cadel Evans, Richie Porte and a European wild card.

Stage four: Glenelg - Mount Barker, 145km

Matt White says:

"The biggest danger on this stage for the GC contenders, or guys who want to win the stage, will be the wind. Every time we go down south to the Fleurieu Peninsula the danger for cross winds is very large and, weather permitting, the race can change drastically. It's a day for the GC riders, not to lose out, but it's a day for people who don't mind the wind to do some damage on guys who are maybe not as race fit as they are."

Winner - A UniSA rider who is off GC

Stage five: McLaren Vale - Wilunga Hill, 151km

Matt White says:

"This is traditionally the queen stage of the Tour Down Under, even more so since they changed it to an uphill finish. It's a dangerous stage for all the climbers as a split in the final kilometre can be the difference in winning the race or not. It's the biggest day for crowds and it's a very, very important day at the office for everybody.

"The way the stage is set out, it can be windy and splits occur early in the stage, but it all boils down to the two laps up Willunga. The first lap is the first natural selection where you get rid of all the non-climbers but you still get a pretty big group going into the bottom for the last time. I guess BMC are going to have a few cards to play with two guys who will climb very fast up Willunga and that's when they need to put pressure on the non-climbers. As we saw in 2014 when Cadel lost contact in that last 300 metres, it ain't over till it's over as that split really made life hard for him to win the tour."

Winner - Richie Porte (Team Sky)

Stage six: King William Road, Adelaide - King William Road, Adelaide, 90km

Matt White says:

"It's the not the circuit that we used in 2014 or the traditional circuit we've used for the last few years but I guaranteed it will be flat and fast. Depending on how general classification is standing, this will determine the nature of this last stage. With several editions of the Tour Down Under having come down to the wire with 19 bonus seconds still available on the final day, anything can still happen."

Winner - The mantle of the new sprint king down under is up for grabs.

Cyclingnews will again have complete coverage of the Tour de San Luis, with exclusive news, interviews and photo galleries.

Santos Tour Down Under, January 20-25:

People's Choice Classic: Adelaide's East End - Adelaide's East End, 51km
Stage 1: Tanunda - Campbelltown, 133km
Stage 2: Unley - Stirling, 150km
Stage 3: Norwood - Paracombe, 143km 
Stage 4: Glenelg - Mount Barker, 145km
Stage 5: McLaren Vale - Wilunga Hill, 151km
Stage 6: King William Road, Adelaide - King William Road, Adelaide, 90km

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