Hello and welcome to our live coverage from stage 1 of the Santos Tour Down Under, the first race of the 2019 UCI WorldTour.
- Tour Down Under 2019
- Tour Down Under 2019 - Start List
- Tour Down Under teams gather in Adelaide - Gallery
- Peter Sagan to debut alloy frame and tubeless tyres in Down Under Classic - Gallery
- Richie Porte: I've got my best team ever for Willunga Hill
- Strong winds lead Tour Down Under to shorten stage 1
- Tour Down Under stage 2 shortened due to heat
- Tour Down Under 2019 WorldTour tech gallery
After a seemingly endless spell of transfer news and training camp galleries, the 2019 racing season is finally upon us. The UCI WorldTour opens up today with the Santos Tour Down Under, and we're looking forward to bringing you the action.
It's a typically warm day for stage 1 of the Tour Down Under. It's currently 36C / 97F in Adelaide, with temperatures at the finish expected to reach at least 38C / 101F.
It's definitely hot here, but it's a different kind of weather that caused organisers, in consultation with riders and teams, to shorten today's stage.
The peloton was set to race a 3.4km loop after crossing the finishing line in Port Adelaide. That section has been removed, with the stage now finishing on the first crossing of the line.
"The reason for this decision is the collective opinion of all representatives taking into consideration that the extreme weather conditions may result in a major peloton break-up, which would be problematic on the finishing circuit," Race director Mike Turtur said in a press release issued by the race organisation.
"We consulted with rider representative Adam Hansen (Lotto Soudal), team director representative Matthew White (Mitchelton-Scott) and with our Chief Commissaire, and all parties have agreed that this is the sensible approach."
The stage will now be 129km
Stage 1 is an out-and-back course with three laps of a short circuit at the far end of the day. The stage starts on O'Connell Street in North Adelaide before climbing gently to a loop around Paracombe, Inglewood and Houghton. From there, the race makes its way back to Port Adelaide, north-west of the city, for an expected sprint finish.
The day's only Subaru King of the Mountains points on this day come at the top of Snake Gully, 39.3km into the stage. The short, steep ascent averages 9.9 percent but it just one of the stair steps as the race continues to climb to Houghton.
The first of three 11km loops begins 47.7km into the race, taking riders through Houghton and Paracombe before the first Ziptrak intermediate sprint of the day in Inglewood at 57.6km. The second and final sprint of the day comes near the end of the third lap, once again in Inglewood at 79.3km.
From there, stage 1 makes its way back to Adelaide in reverse direction but on the same roads the peloton traversed on the way out. Winds could wreak havoc on the expected sprint finish, but a determined peloton with plenty of teams with a sprinter in the mix could still doom any breakaway hopes.
Although it's the forecasted winds that chopped the finishing laps off today's stage, the heat has also claimed a victim. Organisers announced today that they would shorten stage 2 by 26.9km because of excessive heat expected.
You can read more about that decision HERE.
And they're rolling down O'Connell Street in North Adelaide for brief neutral start. We're almost racing!
They've got just under 6km of neutral before the flag drops on the 2019 WorldTour calendar. Good luck, everyone!
The racing in Australia actually started last week with the Women's Tour Down Under, won by Amanda Spratt for the third time.
You can read more about Spratt's impressive achievement and the rest of the stage winners on our women's page HERE
Our reporters on the ground in Adelaide - Daniel Benson, Ellis Bacon and Josh Evans - managed to get a word with Elia Viviani before the start. We asked him about the crash at the Tour Down Under Classic criterium on Sunday.
Here's what the Italian champion had to say.
"It was painful in that moment," Deceuninck-QuickStep's Elia Viviani said of having hurt his foot in the crash at the Down Under Classic on Sunday, "but I felt OK yesterday. We did a ride with our sponsors and had a good rest day, and now we're ready for the real start of the season.
"The WorldTour season starts here – with a bunch sprint, hopefully. We're really focused on that, and want to start in the best way possible.
"My season started here last year, and I managed to get a stage win, so we'd like to do that again. You always want to do better than the previous year, but if I could just equal my 2018 season that would be good," he said, having taken 18 wins last year.
"As I say, the season starts here, like last year, and we want to start well with a stage win. There are two, probably three, sprints this week, and I have a great team around me, so we're ready."
Elia Viviani signs in for the stage
Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) was the big winner Sunday during the Down Under Classic, the tune-up criterium on the streets of Adelaide. The 'pocket rocket' took the bunch sprint win ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Alexander Edmondson from Ewan's former team Mitchelton-Scott. That had to feel especially good for the young Australian.
Read more about that race HERE
And just like that we've got a small group of riders going up the road. They've got 40 seconds. This could be the break of the day already.
This is it! Four riders currently have 1:50 on the peloton.
In the lead are Michael Storer (Team Sunweb), Artyom Zakharov (Astana), Paddy Bevin (CCC Team) and Jason Lea (UniSA-Australia).
They're in for along day out front. Chapeau!
There's anew gap of 2:30 for our four riders out front. Once again they are Michael Storer (Team Sunweb), Artyom Zakharov (Astana), Paddy Bevin (CCC Team) and Jason Lea (UniSA-Australia)
Of the breakaway riders,Bevin is perhaps the most accomplished. The 27-year-old Kiwi recently won the New Zealand time trial title, a repeat of his 2016 win. He raced with Jonathan Vaughters' Cannondale teams for three seasons before moving to BMC last year and now on to CCC for the next two seasons.
He's a strong, aggressive rider who I'm sure the other riders are happy to see in the move.
And the gap is up to 3:40!
Zakharov from Astana is also 27. He won the Kazakhstan road championship in 2017 and has ridden with Astana since 2016, coming up through the Vino 4Ever program.
Twenty-one-year-old Australian Michael Storer (Team Sunweb) will be enjoying his first outing off the front in the colours of his first WorldTour Team. The youngster rode with the Mitchelton-Scott Continental team last year before signing a two-year contract with the German Sunweb team. This is his first race with the team.
Riding for the Australian national team, 22-year-old Jason Lea is another 'local' rider hoping to make a point. When he's not with the national team, he rides with Team Bridgelane.
With less than 120km to race, our four leaders now have 4:15 on the bunch
Our team on the ground spoke with Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) at the start. The 28-year-old time trial world champion is on a new team this yer after five years with BMC Racing. It's a new start for the Australian but in a familiar setting.
"It's always nice to be here and racing in my hometown. I'll let you know how good the stage is at the end. Hopefully there's not too much wind. Fingers crossed it's not too bad for us GC guys. I've not done a whole lot over the winter. I've stayed out of the spotlight, I've got a young boy."
Dennis' new teammate Domenico Pozzovivo had a bad crash in training the other day, so he told us he's hoping to stay safe and upright in today's windy test and tomorrow's stage as well.
"I'm going to try and stay safe in these first two stages. Then there are some harder stages, but I hope to be there later in the race for a result."
The race is reporting that the gap has gone back down to 3:05
The Subaru KOM is coming up at 39.3km into the stage. The short, steep climb averages 9.9 percent and will decide who wears the first mountains jersey in tomorrow's stage.
Dan McLay, EF Education First's British sprinter, says he's looking forward to the end of today's stage, even with the heat.
"I'm feeling good. The legs felt good in the crit but I was a bit held up with the crash. I've been training hard and I'm looking forward to it. It's a bit of an unknown coming here, but I'm looking forward to it. I've got three guys to help out in the leadouts, and we've got a good couple of engines and guys who know what they're doing.
"This is my first time in the race. We'll see with the heat. It's warm but it's not feeling too bad. I'm sure that once we get out there we'll be cooked, but there's nothing you can do. It's the same for everyone."
The gap to our four leaders has dropped below three minutes, but just slightly at 2:55
if you haven't had a chance to read Daniel Benson's article on Cyclingnews today about some of cycling's 'Horrible Bosses', give it a whirl. Anonymous tales from the road that may surprise you. Read it HERE
Today's long finishing straight may help avoid the carnage that snarled the finale of the Down Under Classic.
Defending TDU champion Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) talks about today's stage and the opportunity to collect a time bonus:
"A stage win is going to be hard today with the calibre of sprinters that are here. I definitely hope to be up around the pointy end, but realistically today's going to be hard to get time bonuses on. It's the first day, and there's quite a bit at stake – plus a lot of the sprinters didn't get to sprint at the Down Under Classic on Sunday [due to the crash], so they'll all be trying to win today.
"But over the week we're going to be looking for opportunities, and going into a stage like Willunga [stage 6], against the climbers that are here, you're going to need a bit of a buffer.
"It was good just to get up there and work for Alex Edmondson at the Down Under Classic on Sunday. It's always nice to know that you can do it, so it just gives you a little bit of confidence going into the next couple of days."
Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) was his usual jovial self at the start line, filling us in on what he's been up to over the winter.
"Good morning everyone. We'll see about today. I'll try and be in the front. We did a team camp in Mallorca, and then I did some time with my family and then went skiing. Then I came here."
The breakaway is closing in on the KOM, but the peloton appears to be closing in on the breakaway. Who will end up in the climber's jersey tomorrow?
It looks like Jason Lea has won the KOM with 89.7km to go. Artyom Zakharov was second.
The Astana rider jumped first and got a slight advantage, but Lea was able to claw his way back and overtake the older rider well before the line.
The effort apparently cost Zakharov dearly, or the Astana rider was only in the breakaway for the opportunity to win the first KOM jersey. Either way, he's now dropped from the lead group.
The next highlight from the stage will come in about 17.5km when the race reaches the first of two ZipTrak intermediate sprints. Sprint 1 comes in Inglewood at 57.6km. Sprint 2 follows in the same spot 21.7km later.
86km remaining from 129km
Michael Storer (Team Sunweb), Paddy Bevin (CCC Team) and KOM leader Jason Lea (UniSA-Australia) continue off the front.
Television viewers in Australia this year will no doubt miss the voice of Paul Sherwen, the cycling commentator who died suddenly in December. His longtime broadcast partner, Phil Liggett, is at the race this year without him. Liggett penned a blog for Cyclingnews about losing his friend of many years. You can read Liggett's tribute to Sherwen HERE
Well, despite losing Zakharov, the breakaway's advantage has gone back up over four minutes, with the three leaders now having 4:15 on the peloton.
Bevin, the 27-year-old Kiwi, is now on the front of the lead group supplying the power as his two younger Australian mates fuel up for the journey. They've still got a long way to go as they ride through the agricultural fields on this loop around Houghton, Paracombe and Inglewood.
76km remaining from 129km
Lotto Soudal are massing near the front now. Along with Deceuninck-QuickStep, they've each thrown a rider into the chase. Those numbers will likely increase as the finish nears.
Bevin is in the front again. The New Zealand time trial champion is looking for a general classification result in this race, so he may be motivated to get some time bonuses today.
Bevin is leading the trio across the sprint line without contest from the others. They let the Kiwi take the maximum points and bonus as they rode through the line in rotation.
The next sprint comes at 79.3km
The peloton is going through the feed zone, with a rider from Lotto and one from QuickStep leading affairs.
70km remaining from 129km
It's hot and dry out there today in the Adelaide hills, but there are still pockets of spectators watching the race roll by. Current gap, 4:00 with about 70km remaining
Carl Fredrik Hagen (Nor) is the man from Lotto Soudal doing most of the work on the front of the pelotn at the moment. His teammates are lined up behind him, followed by Team Sky. QuickStep have stepped back.
Five-time Willunga Hill winner Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) spoke to our Daniel Benson this morning about the heat.
"Today is stinking hot. Tomorrow is going to be worse. We're all in the same boat, but we'll drink and drink and drink.
"I'm happy with the organiser's decision to cut length of today and tomorrow's stages. It's common sense and it makes sense.
"For me it's great to be here in my new colours. Hopefully we can get things away to a new start. It's been nice to have a lot of time at home over winter."
63km remaining from 129km
Lotto's Thomas De Gendt is leading the charge in the peloton now, and the gap to the trio up the road has shrunk to less than three minutes - now 2:45
The gap has shrunk to 2:25 now, and the leaders have about 10km to the next sprint.
Bevin would obviously like to collect another three bonus seconds at the sprint in Inglewood. It would give him six second total.
With the winner of the stage getting 10 seconds, and a sprint expected, it's likely Bevin wouldn't get the leader's jersey. But Bevin, who finished 10th overall here in 2016 and has GC ambitions this year, could get a quick six seconds on his GC rivals. The question is whether the effort is worth it. He will have plenty of time to recover before the big GC day on Sunday at the top of Willunga Hill.
57km remaining from 129km
The gap to the lead trio is no under two minutes
55km remaining from 129km
The leaders are approaching 5km to the second intermediate sprint with a gap of 1:35
There will be just under 50km to race after the second and final intermediate sprint in Inglewood.
The orchards and vineyards along the route today are soaking up the sunshine. Slightly overcast skies have temps lingering around 36 C
Lotto Soudal's got the peloton strung out in pursuit of the lead trio, which will likely make it to the sprint in Inglewood.
Storer gets the top points and maximum bonus at the sprint, as once again the trio rode through the line without contesting it. Bevin was second and will get another two-second time bonus for a total of five on the day so far. Will be have anything left for the finish?
48km remaining from 129km
Deceuninck-QuickStep is back on the front with Lotto, and the gap is hovering around a minute.
47km remaining from 129km
The race has complete the three circuits around Houghton, Paracombe and Inglewood, and the riders are currently making their way back down out of the Adelaide Hills to the finish at Port Adelaide. The gap to the leaders is 45 seconds
We've got less than an hour of racing to go as the race makes its way back to Port Adelaide for an expected sprint finish. Elia Viviani missed out on the sprint at the Down Under Classic because of a late crash, but he's hoping to test his formidable Deceuninck-QuickStep lead-out train today. Read more about Viviani and his QuickStep team at Tour Down Under HERE
40km remaining from 129km
Bevin has dropped back to the bunch, which is now sitting just behind the breakaway. The catch will be quick now.
The two leaders are descending with the peloton just behind.
That's it for the escapees! All together at 38.7km. They were away for 90km. The race has averaged nearly 43kph today
That's it for the escapees! All together at 38.7km. They were away for 90km
That's it for the escapees! All together at 38.7km. They were away for 90km. The race has averaged nearly 43kph today
The peloton has slowed down, with riders massing across the road on a slight uphill.
36km remaining from 129km
The peloton will descend one final time off One Tree Hill and then hit the long, flat run to the finish at Port Adelaide,
A rider from Lotto Soudal is on the front now, followed by riders from Deceuninck-QuickStep and Team Sky
30km remaining from 129km
There's no attacking now as everyone seems to want to conserve energy for the finish. Riders from Lotto and QuickStep on the front, followed by the whole of Team Sky
Trek-Segafredo have moved up as a group now, with Richie Porte fourth in line. They're sitting next to Team Sky and the British team's leader, Wout Poels
26km remaining from 129km
They're still bunched up across the road, with a Deceuninck-QuickStep rider now leading the pack. Everyone seems to want to be near the front now.
Mathew Hayman will be riding his last race at the Tour Down Under. The longtime domestique and 2016 Paris-Roubaix winner will retire after a 20-year career. He'll continue to work with Mitchelton-Scott but no longer racing. We spoke with him at the start this morning.
"Strangely enough, it's not really sunk in yet. It's business as usual for me. I've trained hard to be here, and I wake up in the morning and I'm happy to race, just like I have for the last twenty years. Maybe it will take until Sunday and everyone mentioning it every day before it sinks in. Or maybe it will be next week when I don't have to go training.
"As we saw with the crit on Sunday there are no easy races any more. It was game on there. The course is bit harder this year so the sprinters that are here are going to want to take their opportunities. That said, you've always got to be wary of the heat and the wind as well. I'm expecting a bunch sprint, but in bike racing you can ever expect anything."
22km remaining from 129km
The peloton is going down a short, steep descent, but they're still spread out across the road. Nobody is taking any risks before the run into Adelaide.
The favourites for the sprint today are obviously Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Elia Viviani (Deceuninck-QuickStep), but there are other to watch as well.
Team Sunweb has Max Walscheid and Phil Bauhaus, Team Sky has Owain Doull, CCC Team has Jakub Mareczko, Jumbo-Visma has Danny van Poppel and EF Eduvcation First has Daniel McLay,
16km remaining from 129km
The peloton has really slowed down now as they make their way through North Adelaide to Port Adelaide.
It looks like the sprinters will face a headwind in the long finishing straight. Timing will be crucial.
14km remaining from 129km
The peloton is on wide, urban roads now as they head toward the coast and the finish at Port Adelaide. The pace will ramp up as the team's position for the finish.
Mitchelton-Scott has taken up position on the front at the moment.
A roundabout split the peloton briefly, but they've sorted themselves out and are back together, spread out across the wide boulevard on North Adelaide.
There is no hurry to finish this one off. The peloton is spread across the rode as the riders go into a headwind on a wide-open, major highway heading into Port Adelaide.
9km remaining from 129km
Team are grouped together, but there is no impetus for anyone to take charge at the moment.
8km remaining from 129km
Sagan and Ewan are riding next to each other in the bunch, which is still really quite compact.
5km remaining from 129km
The mix at the front is changing rapidly now as teams jockey for position without going full gas. It's a cat-and-mouse game with the entire peloton as they continue to bunch up across the road. QuickStep is not grouped together, however, and Viviani is well back in the field.
1km remaining from 129km
Lotto Soudal are lined up on the left, Mitchelton-Scott on the right, and EF in the middle. It's a big battle on wide roads.
Several riders have been cut out on the wrong side of the road after a tight turn
1km remaining from 129km
It's a mad scramble. Complete chaos
Jumbo-Visma on the front
Walscheid looked to have it, but Viviani came around hm at the line. Where did he come from?
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep
2 Max Wlascheid (Ger) Team Sunweb
3 Jakub Marecsko (Ita) CCC Team
An amazing sprint from the Italian, who came from way back with a huge burst of speed to win comfortably.
Stage 1 top 10:
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 3:19:47
2 Max Walscheid (Ger) Team Sunweb
3 Jakub Mareczko (Ita) CCC Team
4 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrain-Merida
5 Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
6 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
7 Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Sky
8 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
9 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Jumbo-Visma
10 Daniel Hoelgaard (Nor) Groupama-FDJ
GC after stage 1:
1 Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 3:19:37
2 Max Wlascheid (Ger) Team Sunweb 0:00:04
3 Patrick Bevin (NZl) CCC Team 0:00:05
4 Michael Storer (Aus) Team Sunweb
5 Jakub Marecsko (Ita) CCC Team 0:00:06
6 Jason Lea (Aus) UniSA-Australia 0:00:08
7 Phil Bauhaus (Ger) Bahrin-Merida 0:00:10
8 Ryan Gibbons (RSA) Dimension Data
9 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) (UAE Team Emirates)
10 Kristoffer Halvorsen (Nor) Team Sky
The breakaway obviously paid off for all three riders who stuck with it. Lea got the mountains jersey, while Bevin's five seconds in bonuses slotted him into fourth at five seconds behind Viviani, and Storer is in fifth, also five seconds back.
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