The 2021 Tour Down Under has been cancelled but GreenEdge Cycling will still send highly competitive teams to the women’s and men’s Santos Festival of Cycling (January 21-24). The four-day event – which includes men’s and women’s races – was confirmed in November as a replacement to the WorldTour race which was cancelled due to a lack of interest from international teams related to COVID-19 impact on travel and quarantine restrictions.
In total 13 men’s WorldTour riders are expected to race the men’s four-day stage race with Richie Porte the standout favourite. The future Ineos Grenadiers rider is set to race as part of the national team and will be the favourite to win with the inclusion of a Willunga Hill finish, but GreenEdge bring strength with a team spearheaded by Lucas Hamilton and sprinter Kaden Groves.
“For us it’s an important event. It’s Australian racing, it’s going to be televised and it’s still a big race,” Matt White told Cyclingnews.
“Our sponsors are Australian too and this still a great opportunity for the male and female riders in the team who went back home and want some competition before the national championships and before they head back to Europe.”
Hamilton will be supported by former Tour Down Under winner Cameron Meyer, Luke Durbridge, Alex Edmondson, Damien Howson, and Groves after all of the GreenEdge participants flew back to Australia for warm-weather training and the chance to see their families in the off-season.
As well as targeting wins in the race, the team will also use the experience to build up for the national championships, which now take place after the Santos Festival of Cycling rather than their usual early-January slot. For White, Porte will be the favourite for the Santos Festival of Cycling given his pedigree for finding early-season form and his success rate on Willunga Hill.
“Richie will be the favourite, with the first stage relatively flat, and then a climb with around 10 kilometres to go on stage 2 so it should be a reduced group. Willunga Hill is on stage 3 and then there’s the criterium in Adelaide,” White added
In the women’s field, GreenEdge have another all-Australian line-up with Jess Allen, Grace Brown, Lucy Kennedy, Sarah Roy, Georgia Williams and guest rider Alex Manly taking part. Manly rode for the team between 2015 and 2019, while Brown had a breakthrough year in Europe with a number of impressive results. She won a stage in the Women’s Tour Down Under in 2019.
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