Ones to watch in the Tour Down Under
Happy New Year!! I hope 2013 has started well for everyone! Welcome to my first Bloggle of 2013! With the Tour Down Under just days away, if not hours now, I’ve taken a look at the ones to watch in Adelaide, but first a bit of tennis…
Not to be outdone by the amazing sporting events and achievements of 2012, 2013 here in Australia starts in style with the Australian Open Tennis and the Santos Tour Down Under . It’s a time of year when sleepless nights are a regular occurrence as you try to catch up on the days happenings in the Tour Down Under and watch the tennis. The Australian Open Tennis, is a killer of a tournament on this front. You’d think living in the same country as the Championships would mean that you get to watch the matches at normal times throughout the day, as opposed to when I watch Wimbledon and have to get used to watching tennis through the night. But no, the Australian Open is odd. The evening matches starts at 7pm nd sometimes go on till 2am or even 4:34am (Llyton Hewitt d. Marcos Bagdatis 2008) That means we get the jetlag and the rest of the world can watch at a normal time!!
However as much as I love tennis and it’s going to kill me this year as I try to be disciplined and get some sleep throughout January so that I can train properly and recover still and of course we are here to talk about cycling and the Tour and my who’s who.
This year is the 15th Anniversary of the Tour Down Under. Kicking off on the 20th January for 8 days the Tour begins in Adelaide and visits the Adelaide Hills, the Barossa and the Fleurieu Peninsula before returning to the city. One of the great things about the event, is not just the caliber of cyclists, but that it’s a festival of cycling offering something for everyone!
However, here’s some of the Elites to look out for in the Santos Tour Down Under and some of my thoughts and my training buddies thoughts on the stages. Of course we are all pundits really!
Leopard Trek (LUX) – Andy Schleck (LUX) is probably the biggest name for the tour in 2013. Andy’s 2012 season was wrecked with injury when he crashed out of the Criterium du Dauphine, fracturing his pelvis and resulting in him missing not only the Tour de France but the Olympics and the World Championships. He has a packed year ahead competing every week until the Tour de France in July, and he’s keen to show the world he’s back as a good bike rider.
BMC Racing Team (USA) – Philippe Gilbert (BEL), had a great year in 2011 and a lot was expected of him in 2012. The first three quarters of the season was relatively quiet yet he certainly knew how to ramp it up and capped it off by winning the World Championships. He has had success in Adelaide earlier in his career with both stage and KOM classification wins. The final climb in Stage 2 close to the finish of the race is certain to shake up the results. This could be his time to attack…we shall wait and see!
SKY Pro Cycling (GBR) – Edvald Boassson Hagen (NOR), had further success in 2012 following a great couple of years. The likable Norwegian came 2nd in the World Championships after winning the Norwegian Road Champs earlier in the year. Last year in the Tour Down Under he took out the sprint classification, and could very well do the same in 2013, although an overall win is not certain.
Bernhard Eisel (AUT) worked with Mark Cavendish at HTC establishing himself as a right hand man, protecting the Manx Misile through the flats and mountain stages. With Cavendish moving to Omege, Eisel remains at Sky in a support role to the likes of Boassosn Hagen.
Geraint Thomas (GBR) is the current world record holder in the Team Pursuit, a record set at that small event in London last summer! The London Olympics! (just in case you’d forgotten already.) I think we all remember that well! Thomas returns his focus to road cycling after spending much of 2013 focused on the track leading into The Games. It’ll be exciting to see what he has and I know he’ll have a lot of support going into 2013. Other Brits in the team to look out for Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe.
Luke Rowe, enjoyed his transition to the professional ranks last season by winning a stage in the Tour of Britain, which earned him a spell in the leader’s jersey. Although I’m sure he aims for further trips to the podium in his career, for now his strength is a highly-adept domestique and lead-out rider.
Ian Stannard is the 2012 British National Champion and will be hoping to continue this progression into 2013 and further wins will not be too far away.
For any of the Aussie’s reading this block, Sky Pro Cycling includes Mathew Hayman and Chris Sutton. Chris Sutton, is a local Sydney boy and has been seen regularly competing in the local crit races over the past few months hoping to put behind him an injury-hit 2012. He also shares the same birthday as me (10th September, just so you can all lock that in your 2013 calendar, for my birthday card, not Chris’!). Sutton is one of Sky’s sprint talents but can comfortably be a lead out man as well.
Blanco Pro Cycling Team (NED), formerly Rabobank – Jack Bobridge (AUS) – is probably a key rider to watch with a lot of people expecting a lot from him. Jack Bobby has a great junior track heritage and is converting that into senior track success as well. He won the Australian Road Championships in 2011 and a lot was expected of him at Green Edge, but at the end of the year he chose to shift to Blanco in order to be seen as a team leader.
Mark Renshaw (AUS) – another good Aussie talent. He was excluded from the 2010 Tour de France for head-butting Julian Dean (NZ) in the sprit. Renshaw had very good heritage in track before switching to road, and then in 2012 changed teams in order to break away from being just a “lead out” man for Cavendish but didn’t really do too much. He’s had success at the TDU with stage wins in 07 and 08, and maybe 2013 is his year to shine.
As for the women, it would be great to see an equivalent tour, particularly with the recent announcement of the Wiggle Honda Womens Pro Cycling Team. I’d definitely be making excuses at work to head down to see the team if that was the case. However for now, it doesn’t exist, but there is a Santos Women’s Cup which is a three race series on the 20th, 21st and 23rd January. The first round to be held right before The People’s Choice Classic. This is a closed circuit road race held as a preview to the Santos Tour Down Under. However I’ll have to wait for that opportunity to see the Wiggle Honda Womens Pro Cycling team in action in Australia.
I can’t really finish this without saying something about the drugs controversy that’s been occupying the news space in the last few weeks and days. Actually, in fact I’m sure by the time you read this most of you will have watched Oprah and formed your own views, so for now I will not give it anymore air time except….
I hope the Santos Tour Down Under is a clean and fair event. It’s an incredible festival and I hope that is shows the world the good side of cycling.
Till next time…train hard…rest hard…stay clean!