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Peloton primed for Santos Tour Down Under

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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) is looking to rack up some wins in Australia.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) is looking to rack up some wins in Australia.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) is, as ever, the man to watch.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) is, as ever, the man to watch.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The Katusha riders model the team's new kit ahead of the Santos Tour Down Under.

The Katusha riders model the team's new kit ahead of the Santos Tour Down Under.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Sergei Ivanov and Belarus champion Aleksandr Kuschynski (Katusha).

Sergei Ivanov and Belarus champion Aleksandr Kuschynski (Katusha).
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Michael Rogers sporting his new Team Sky colours.

Michael Rogers sporting his new Team Sky colours.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Simon Gerrans is in his second season at Team Sky.

Simon Gerrans is in his second season at Team Sky.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A new bike and new kit for Liquigas-Cannondale's Fabio Sabatini.

A new bike and new kit for Liquigas-Cannondale's Fabio Sabatini.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Dimitri Konyshev imparts some words of wisdom to his Katusha charges.

Dimitri Konyshev imparts some words of wisdom to his Katusha charges.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Leopard Trek makes its debut in the peloton at the Santos Tour Down Under.

Leopard Trek makes its debut in the peloton at the Santos Tour Down Under.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Stuart O'Grady (Leopard Trek) won the first ever Tour Down Under in 1999.

Stuart O'Grady (Leopard Trek) won the first ever Tour Down Under in 1999.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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British champion Geraint Thomas (Sky) will be looking to build on a strong 2010 campaign.

British champion Geraint Thomas (Sky) will be looking to build on a strong 2010 campaign.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Euskaltel-Euskadi riders in Adelaide.

Euskaltel-Euskadi riders in Adelaide.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) gets ready.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) gets ready.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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HTC-Columbia will be competitive in Australia.

HTC-Columbia will be competitive in Australia.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) adjusts his cleats.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) adjusts his cleats.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) attracts attention wherever he goes.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) attracts attention wherever he goes.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) is one of the star turns at the Santos Tour Down Under.

Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) is one of the star turns at the Santos Tour Down Under.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Geraint Thomas and Team Sky are motivated to put on a show in Adelaide.

Geraint Thomas and Team Sky are motivated to put on a show in Adelaide.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Michael Rogers (Sky) is back racing on home roads.

Michael Rogers (Sky) is back racing on home roads.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Sky's Mathew Hayman, Michael Rogers and Simon Gerrans are not short on motivation.

Sky's Mathew Hayman, Michael Rogers and Simon Gerrans are not short on motivation.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Stuart O'Grady is starting a new adventure with Leopard Trek.

Stuart O'Grady is starting a new adventure with Leopard Trek.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Vacansoleil and Uzbek champion Sergey Lagutin are ready for the Santos Tour Down Under.

Vacansoleil and Uzbek champion Sergey Lagutin are ready for the Santos Tour Down Under.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Quick Step added to its stable of fast men in the winter with Francesco Chicchi and Gerard Ciolek.

Quick Step added to its stable of fast men in the winter with Francesco Chicchi and Gerard Ciolek.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) was one of the revelations of 2010.

Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) was one of the revelations of 2010.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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AG2R-La Mondiale riders impatient for the off.

AG2R-La Mondiale riders impatient for the off.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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AG2R-La Mondiale is France's sole ProTeam in 2011.

AG2R-La Mondiale is France's sole ProTeam in 2011.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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One for the road. Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) stocks up.

One for the road. Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) stocks up.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step) has a rapid finish.

Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step) has a rapid finish.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alessandro Ballan (BMC) will be hoping to start 2011 on the right foot.

Alessandro Ballan (BMC) will be hoping to start 2011 on the right foot.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Former world champion Alessandro Ballan (BMC) is preparing for the Classics.

Former world champion Alessandro Ballan (BMC) is preparing for the Classics.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Spanish champion Iván Gutiérrez (Movistar).

Spanish champion Iván Gutiérrez (Movistar).
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The hugely experienced José Vicente García Acosta (Movistar).

The hugely experienced José Vicente García Acosta (Movistar).
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has a rich pedigree in the Santos Tour Down Under.

André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has a rich pedigree in the Santos Tour Down Under.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is ready for round one of his match with Mark Cavendish.

André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is ready for round one of his match with Mark Cavendish.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) takes a last look at the road book.

André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) takes a last look at the road book.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) looks like he has put in a serious winter of training.

André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) looks like he has put in a serious winter of training.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Astana begin the post Alberto Contador era in earnest in Australia.

Astana begin the post Alberto Contador era in earnest in Australia.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Astana riders ready to get out on the road.

Astana riders ready to get out on the road.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has a big year ahead of him.

André Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has a big year ahead of him.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Movistar has come on board to replace Caisse d'Epargne as sponsor.

Movistar has come on board to replace Caisse d'Epargne as sponsor.
(Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

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.