Mitchelton-Scott manager Matt White has selected Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis as two of the main favourites for next year's Santos Tour Down Under. The first WorldTour race of the 2019 campaign starts on January 15 with Mitchelton-Scott looking to defend their crown.
Daryl Impey, who won the race in 2018, is likely to lead the Australian team once more and will be hoping to become the first rider in the race's history to win back-to-back titles. With Caleb Ewan set to race in Lotto Soudal colours, Mitchelton-Scott will not bring a sprinter to the first WorldTour race of the season.
"No one has gone back-to-back in the history of the race, so it will be a big challenge for us," White told Cyclingnews.
"Obviously, without being privileged to see who is coming, regardless I think our biggest threats will come from Australians with Rohan Dennis, Jay McCarthy, as guys who will be ready to go, but for me the big favourite is again Richie Porte."
In 2018, Impey edged out Porte, the then-defending champion, with Tom-Jelte Slagter finishing third. Porte has won on Willunga Hill for the last five straight years and is set to return in 2019 as the leader for Trek-Segafredo after moving away from BMC Racing. He had hinted at not returning to the Tour Down Under earlier this season, but all indications are that he will look to win the race for the second time in his career.
White is currently planning the team's assault on 2019's Grand Tours after the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia routes were recently announced. The Vuelta a España has yet to be confirmed. This year Simon Yates and Chaves targeted the Giro, while Adam Yates headed to the Tour. The team won their maiden Grand Tour at the Vuelta, with Simon Yates finishing ahead of Enric Mas (Quick-Step Floors), and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).