Stage 1: Clare - Tanunda
The opening stage of this year's Tour Down Under visits a new town in Clare, the centre of the Clare Valley wine region about 75km from the centre of Adelaide. The parcours runs to the heart of the Barossa Valley, Tanunda, 141km later, having travelled through some undulating terrain.
Although the stage profile indicates that it's mainly downhill for the first half of the 141km, the second half, including the Mengler's Hill climb, will throw up the potential for a group to get away as the bunch embarks on the lap around the finish town of Tanunda.
That group won't stand much chance however, as the peloton will likely have a northerly wind at its back on the downhill run to Tanunda and a showdown between sprinters such as Robbie McEwen, André Greipel and Robbie Hunter. Look for one of the fast men to be in ochre at day's end.
Team Milram's Luke Roberts says:
We head south for most of the stage and there's one point where we turn and head in an easterly direction. If the wind is strong enough then there's going to be a section of crosswind before the climb. If the hammer really goes down there then the field is going to be broken up coming into the climb.
If there are good climbers in the first group, the guys in the second or third group are never going to see them again. It's going to be pretty important to watch the wind through the whole stage.
I don't think many riders know the terrain out there [Clare] and it's a long way out of Adelaide - there aren't many guys who go out there for a training ride, not even the Adelaide boys! It's going to be a bit of an unknown quantity for the riders out beyond Tanunda. It's going to be interesting - on the profile it looks like it goes all downhill, but it has something there for a big day.
I'm expecting the worst before the hill and hope it's not as bad as I'm expecting. We'll be on the alert from the word go and make sure we'll have something in store for the hill.
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