Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' first live coverage of the 2020 UCI WorldTour calendar. We'll have blow-by-blow coverage of all six stages of the Tour Down Under, which begins today with a 150km stage in Tanunda.
We're less than an hour away from the start of stage 1, and the 2020 UCI WorldTour will be officially underway. This race wraps up on January 26, the same day another large contingent of the WorldTour peloton start their season in Argentina at the Vuelta a San Juan, a UCI Pro Series race. The WorldTour picks up again at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race on February 2, while the South American action continues at the Tour Colombia 2.1 February 11-16.
We're waiting for the WorldTour to roll out in about 45 minutes, but the international racing started here last week with the Women's Tour Down Under, a four-day race won by American Ruth Winder of the Trek-Segafredo team, bringing and end to the three-year reign of Mitchelton-Scott's Amanda Spratt.
You can read about Winder's win HERE, and check out all our coverage on the Women's Tour Down Under hub page.
Of course, the men have been turning the pedals over in anger already as well, with Sunday night's running of the Schwalbe Classic criterium in downtown Adelaide. Lotto Soudal's Caleb Ewan laid down a big marker for his rivals, winning the sprint by several bike lengths as his team performed in the finale like a well-oiled Belgian frites-maker. Elia Viviani and Cofidis were left wanting, while Sam Bennett was never in contention during his Deceuninck-QuickStep debut.
Stage 1 is based around a 30km circuit in the Barossa Valley, with the riders starting and finishing in Tanunda and completing the circuit five times.
Minutes away from the start
Rohan Dennis is ready to go
...aaaaaand we're rolling at the Tour Down Under. The 2020 UCI WorldTour is underway!
You can read what Mitchelton-Scott director Matt White had to say about today's stage HERE.
In short. Today's one for the fast finishers ...
Temps today are a moderate 20.6 C. Riders will be competing over five 30km loops around Taununda, Bethany, Angaston, Penrice and Nuriootpa.
It's a rare day that one of us yanks gets handed the keys of the Cyclingnews live coverage blimp, but the timing at the Tour Down Under means our Europeans are going to sleep when the race is starting up, hence here I am working my annual swing shift for the race, and what a cracker it's turning out to be with several teams hoping to end Mitchelton-Scott's dominance.
In the States it is still Monday evening, of course, January 20, a federal holiday to commemorate the birthday of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1968.
One of our reporters on the ground at the Tour Down Under, Ellis Bacon, a British ex-pat living in Australia now, spoke with defending champion Daryl Impey before the start. Here's what the South African champ had to say:
"We come here with a strong team every year, and all the boys have been training well. Today we'll definitely just try to stay safe out there. Every year's different, every year's unique, but when you walk through the race hotel and see your name there [on the honour roll], you certainly get a bit nervous ahead of the start."
Impey isn't waiting around to set the standard for this year's race. The cagey veteran just won the first intermediate sprint of the day and grabbed three bonus seconds for himself. Chris Lawless (Ineos) was second and earned two seconds, with Nathan Haas (Cofidis) third and gaining one second.
A group of four riders have slipped away now.
The next sprint with time bonuses comes at the halfway point with 75km to go. That's the final sprint of the day. There are also two KOMs today at Breakneck Hill 46km into the day and again at Breakneck Hill at 106.9km.
We've also got ace reporter Stephen Farrand on the scene in Australia, as well as tech gurus Josh Croxton and Colin Levitch, so we'll have all the angles covered.
And the breakaway is gone 45 – minutes into the stage.
Four riders have 3:55 on the bunch. In the move are Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Jarrad Drizners (UniSA), Dylan Sunderland (NTT) and a fourth rider who is yet to be identified.
While you're keeping up with the stage, give a listen to our latest podcast, where Procycling editor Edward Pickering joins is in discussing a number of topics from the evolution of UAE Team Emirates to the chances of Elia Viviani and Caleb Ewan as they go head-to-head in Australia.
We also hear from both Viviani and Ewan after Sunday’s downtown criterium, while we also check in with Tom Southam from EF Pro Cycling as he looks ahead to the first WorldTour race of the year. Our final interview in this episode is with Matt White, from Mitchelton-Scott. White has masterminded six overall titles in the past nine years, and with Daryl Impey on his roster is looking to make it three in a row.
We've let some air out of the Cyclingnews blimp and dropped to within eyesight of the breakaway. The fourth rider in the move is Michael Storer from Team Sunweb.
That makes it...
Michael Storer (Team Sunweb)
Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team)
Jarrad Drizners (UniSA)
Dylan Sunderland (NTT)
Rosskopf is the 30-year-old journeyman for CCC team who is a two-time and reigning US time trial champion. He saved his spot on BMC in 2016 when he won the Tour du Limousin. Rosskopf is a strong rider to have in the breakaway.
Jarrad Drizners is the 20-year-old who recently won the Australian U23 road race title after signing with Hagens Berman Axeon for next year.
Storer is another young Australian. The 22-year-old signed with Sunweb in 2018.
Dylan Sunderland is the third young Aussie in the group. The 23-year-old signed with NTT Pro Cycling this year form Team Bridgelane.
Young Drizners obviously has his sights set on a jersey for today as he takes maximum points at the first KOM. The quartet now has 2:45 on the bunch with just under 100km to go.
You can read more about young Drizners in this excellent article from Ellis Bacon:
Temp is now 22.6 C on course, or about 72 degrees Fahrenheit. That's pretty mild compared with what the weather has been like previously at TdU.
In a bombshell article, Rohan Dennis has spoken openly and emotionally about his bitter divorce from the Bahrain-Merida team, revealing he suddenly quit the Tour de France to save his marriage and his sanity after a gradual decline in his mental wellbeing.
Read Stephen Farrand's story HERE
Our breakaway riders still have two minutes on the peloton, which is being driven by Deceuninck-QuickStep, Jumbo-Visma and Cofidis.
Two-time TDU winner (2008, 2010) and 18-time stage winner André Greipel (Israel Start-Up Nation) spoke with our Ellis Bacon this morning. Here's what the German speedster had to say about today's stage:
"I missed the race last year, so why not start my season here this year? We'll try our best here as a team to set things up for a bunch sprint, and hopefully I can be in the mix for the stage win today."
Another rider in with a chance today is European road race champion Elia Viviani (Cofidis). Ellis Bacon caught up with the Italian at the start as well:
"I'm happy about how we've started here in Australia, getting second at the Schwalbe Classic on Sunday. It was a good team effort, so we're pretty confident, and we've definitely got that winning mentality that we need. We want to try to win straight away from stage 1, and then we'll see after that."
Our breakaway is approaching sprint number 2 at the halfway mark.
Storer jumped first inside 1km to go, but he went to early and Drizners was able to catch him to take maximum points.
Sunderland also passed Storer to take second in the sprint, leaving Storer to scoop up third ahead of Rosskopf
After two hours of racing and with less than 65km (or just more than two of the 30km circuits) remaining, the breakaway riders' gap is down to 1:30.
Deceuninck-QuickStep will be hungry to get a stage win today for Bennett after they so badly dropped the ball on Sunday at the Scwalbe Classic, where Lotto Soudal's 'Pocklet Rocket' Caleb Ewan outclassed all the other fastmen. The Belgian team are on the front now working to give Bennett another shot at a sprint finish.
The breakaway riders are going through the start/finish with two more circuits (60km) to go.
The peloton has closed the gap to the leaders down to less than a minute, and that's enough for Rosskopf to take his leave. The CCC rider has jumped away from the others and is making his way toward KOM number 2 with 43.1km to go. He's got to hang on for less than 10km to collect maximum points and take the jersey from Drizners, but the peloton is in full flight now.
Rosskopf, the two-time and reigning US time trial champion, is in full time trial mode on his bicycle now, just 4km from the KOM and 46km from the finish. He's got 1:30 on the bunch.
The peloton is rolling at 46km an hour, but Rosskopf is holding them off so far. UAE Team Emirates, Deceuninck-QuickStep, Cofidis and Astana are all present on the front. Lotto Soudal are sitting a little way back, surrounding their sprinter Ewan and keeping him out of trouble. Conspicuously absent are riders from Israel Start-Up Nation and their fastman Andre Greipel.
Rosskopf is on Breakneck Hill now, just over a kilometre from the KOM. It looks like he'll get the KOM and get to pull on the mountains jersey at the end of the day.
Lotto Soudal's Thomas DeGendt, Mr. Breakaway himself, is doing the work on the front of the bunch to pull Rosskopf back now.
Rosskopf will get the KOM and the jersey. He's 100 metres away.
With 35km to go, the peloton has reeled Rosskopf back into the fold, and the race resets 5km from the start of the final lap.
For you NBA fans, the Portland Trailblazers and the Golden State Warriors are tied at 8 with 7 minutes to go in the first quarter!
You'll remember that 2019 champion Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) took a three-second time bonus on the first intermediate sprint of the day. With bonuses of 10, 6, and 4 seconds to the top three on today's stage, Impey probably won't take the leader's jersey, but he did get three seconds on his GC rivals to put in his back pocket for later this week.
Israel Start-Up Nation put a rider on the front of the bunch for Greipel. It would be nice to see the veteran rider throw his arms up in Australia one more time.
Greipel looking comfortable in the peloton today in this Bettini photo
Thomas De Gendt on the front off the bunch with 25km to go, keeping things stretched out and discouraging attacks
20km to go!
15km to Go! and teams are really starting to jockey for the front, including the teams of the GC contenders trying to keep their leaders out of trouble.
The intact peloton has made it up and over Breakneck Hill for the final time with 12.6km remaining
There are now just 10km remaining and the competing sprint lines are taking their places across the road. Deceuninck-QuickDtep, Lotto Soudal, AG2R, Trek-Segafredo, Bora-Hansgrohe, UAE Team Emirates are all fighting for space
They've hot 5km to go and Ian Stannard is driving things on the front for Team Ineos.
Astana and UniSA have swamped Ineos.
Sunweb taking control now
EF Pro Cycling have come to the front with 2km to go
1km to go with QuickStep on the front
Bennett Jumps and looks to have it, but it was close!
Bennett takes it ahead of UAE's Philipsen!!
Stage 1 top 10:
1 Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-QuickStep 3:28:54
2 Jasper Philpsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates
3 Erik Baska (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis Credit Solutions
5 Andre Greipel (Ger) Israel Start-Up Nation
6 Kristofer Halvorsen (Now) EF Pro Cycling
7 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
8 Marc Sarreau (Fra) Cofidis Credit Solutions
9 Sam Welsford (Aus) UniSA
10 Alberto Dainese (Ita) Team Sunweb
GC after stage 1
1 Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-QuickStep 3:28:44
2 Jasper Philpsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:04
3 Erik Baska (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:06
4 Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott 0:00:07
5 Jarrad Drizners (Aus) UniSA 0:00:07
6 Christopher Lawless (GBr) Team Ineos 0:00:08
7 Dylan Sunderland (Aus) NTT Pro Cycling 0:00:08
8 Nathan Haas (Aus) Cofidis Credit Solutions 0:00:09
9 Michael Storer (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:00:09
10 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis Credit Solutions 0:00:10
It appears we were hasty on awarding the mountains jersey to Rosskopf. He was tied on points with Drizners, who finished the stage ahead of him and so collected the mountains jersey to wear tomorrow.
A close finish, but Bennett came through by a bike throw for Deceuninck-QuickStep
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