After arriving in Adelaide, Australia, earlier today, defending Santos Tour Down Under champion Allan Davis believes that 2008 champion André Greipel will be the biggest obstacle - metaphorically speaking - between himself and another Down Under title.
The big German sprinter dominated the race in 2008, winning four stages en route to the overall title. Last year he suffered bad luck and crashed out on stage three, having won the opening day's stage to Mawson Lakes but losing out to Davis on stage two in Stirling.
Davis' win on the uphill finish in the picturesque Adelaide Hills town exemplified his strength and the Queenslander said that his proven ability to overcome testing climbs ahead of sprint finishes is an advantage "on paper" but admitted that Greipel is "in pretty good shape" ahead of the 2010 edition.
"He's on par, if not fitter than me," Davis told Cyclingnews. "On a flat finish he's got the edge over me - he's a lot punchier in a sprint than me whereas I prefer it a little more uphill if I can.
"I think he's a favourite, for sure," added Davis. "He seems to come out here in super form. It's a credit to him that he gets himself in that condition."
Davis admitted that it's not all about Columbia-HTC's sprinter - there are threats from other quarters, some of which are a little closer to home. "There are a couple of other guys; I think Cookie [Baden Cooke] will go well this year," explained Davis.
"He's looking lean, he can sprint and he can climb; he can get bonus seconds in the sprint and if he gets over the Willunga climb okay he'll be up there for sure. I think he's a real favourite as well."
Davis added, "A lot of people will be looking at Stuey... he might have thought he could slip under the radar," and played down the fact that the 2007 Paris-Roubaix champion has been sick of late.
"I've seen him do amazing things before [after having been ill] - you can't discount him," said Davis.
As for his own team, Davis is on slightly unfamiliar ground, having only signed for the Astana squad recently, and explained, "I only know three guys on the team who are coming out here. I've raced with one of them at Liberty Seguros, Jesus Hernandez.
"I know Oscar Pereiro quite well but I don't know what kind of shape he's in. Last year he was in good shape and if he is this year it'll be a big bonus. [Andriy] Grivko is also a quality bike rider," he added.
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