Tour Down Under 2016 – is anyone in any kind of form whatsoever?
For most of us, our main task at this time of year is overriding the thermostat so that the heating comes on a bit earlier. However, for professional road cyclists, the season begins with the Tour Down Under.
Personally, I struggle to stay out on the bike for more than an hour or so at this time of year. But then I’m not in Australia. That whole ‘being in the southern hemisphere’ thing apparently has a really big impact on the weather.
But it’s one thing to turn up somewhere warm and hop on your bike. This is a WorldTour (yes, without a space) race. Who’s been putting the miles in leading up to it? Who’s actually fit enough to win?
The answer to that question is, somewhat unsurprisingly, a bunch of Australians. Northern hemisphere cyclists might well force themselves to train for longer than me, but it’ll still be freezing or pissing it down. You can’t blame them if they cut their rides just a little bit short.
The winner of the Tour Down Under is generally someone who’s quick up short climbs. In fact, it’s generally Simon Gerrans. He’s won it three times and is riding again this year.
Last year, the race was won by another Australian, The Rider Called Rohan Dennis. I daresay he’s also in form and a third Aussie, Richie Porte, will also be worth watching.
Team Sky bring Geraint Thomas who can, in theory, win anything, but still wins relatively little. They also have Sergio Henao.
Diego Ulissi, back from his ban, seems the right sort of rider for this race and while I could probably name a few more people, I’ll instead finish with one more Aussie.
I reckon that Hansen’s reached the point where he considers completion of three Grand Tours a year to be insufficiently challenging and now plans on riding every single stage race on the calendar – even the ones that run concurrently in entirely different countries.
I can’t prove this, largely on account of it being a lie, but that isn’t to say it won’t happen (the physical impossibility is actually what will prevent it from happening).
I won’t be doing stage-by-stage recaps of the Tour Down Under, by the way. I’m not yet in form. I’ll probably go for a full race roundup instead, easing myself into the season gently.