"I had a good winter and I worked to be competitive in this first race," Ulissi said. "It will be very interesting to see how the new arrangement of stages, with the Willunga Hill on the final stage, will affect the race."
Ulissi, 29, who landed on the podium in the race in 2014, is bringing momentum forward to the 2019 season from a fourth place in the Tour of Turkey last October.
"I'm motivated to start the season again in Australia. It's a beautiful race given the course and the high level of participants," he said. "Given the competitors, it's a must to arrive in Australia with some good training behind you if you want to be up there in the classification battle and on the tough stages."
He will be joined in UAE Team Emirates' Tour Down Under line-up by neo-pros Ivo Oliveira, Jasper Philipsen and Tadej Pogacar, who are making their WorldTour debut. Jan Polanc, Sven Erik Bystrom and Australian Rory Sutherland complete the team.