The 2012 WorldTour season kicks off on January 17-22 with the Tour Down Under in Australia.

The six-stage race takes place in and around the environs of Adelaide, capital city of South Australia. It’s summer Down Under, allowing the northern hemisphere professionals to swap the rain and snow of Europe for warm sun to ease their legs into racing.

With all stages within a stone’s throw of each other, teams can set up base in a hotel and stay there for the duration of the race with no lengthy transfers.

Race organisers have beefed up the route slightly this year. None of the stages have exceeded 150 kilometres in recent editions of the event and have favoured sprinters or attackers.

This year, however, stage five offers more of a challenge. The 151.5km stage features two ascents of Old Willunga Hill, finishing at the top on the second visit. This will give climbers a chance for a stage win and a place higher up the general classification.

The 2012 edition of the race is the debut for the Australia GreenEdge squad, who have entered an all-Australian team for its ‘home’ race. Defending TDU champion Cameron Meyer heads the team, backed by a line-up that also includes two further TDU winners: Simon Gerrans (2006) and Stuart O’Grady (1999 and 2001). Even though the team has yet to turn a pedal in the top flight, GreenEdge are going to be the squad to beat in this WorldTour opener.

Two British riders make their debut for their new WorldTour teams – Andrew Fenn for Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Adam Blythe for BMC Racing. Sky duo Geraint Thomas and Alex Dowsett complete the provisional British line-up for the race.

Mark Cavendish, who signed with Sky in the autumn, will not take part in this year’s race and will likely make his Sky debut at the Tour of Qatar in February.

All 18 WorldTour teams plus local outfit UniSA Australia field seven-man teams in the race, bringing the total start list to 133 riders.

The Tour Down Under is preceded by the one-day Down Under Classic race on Sunday, January 15.

Cycling Weekly will be covering the 2012 Tour Down Under in full with daily stage reports and photo galleries

Tour Down Under 2012: Latest news

Valverde returns to top, like it or not

Guesdon likely to end career after Down Under crash

Renshaw adapts to lead sprint role in new team

Fenn starts pro career Down Under

Sky’s Boasson Hagen favoured in Tour Down Under

GreenEdge makes history, ready to take on Sky

Tour Down Under 2012 start list

Valverde to make racing return at Tour Down Under

Sky’s 2012 Tour Down Under squad named

Tour Down Under 2012: Stage reports

Stage six: Gerrans wins overall, Greipel takes final stage

Stage five: Valverde wins as Gerrans takes lead

Stage four: Freire takes first win for Katusha

Stage three: Grepel wins stage three and takes lead

Stage two: Clarke catches top teams napping in Tour Down Under

Stage one: Greipel wins

Down Under Classic: Greipel opens Down Under with win

Tour Down Under 2012: Photo galleries

All photos by Graham Watson

Tour Down Under 2012 stage six photo gallery

Tour Down Under 2012 stage five photo gallery

Tour Down Under 2012 stage four photo gallery

Tour Down Under 2012 stage three photo gallery

Tour Down Under 2012 stage two photo gallery

Tour Down Under 2012 stage one photo gallery

Down Under Classic photo gallery

Tour Down Under 2012: Stages
Sunday, January 15: Down Under Classic (stand-alone event), 51km Won by Andre Greipel>>
Tuesday, January 17: Stage one, Prospect to Clare, 149km Won by Andre Greipel>>
Wednesday, January 18: Stage two, Lobethal to Stirling, 148km Won by William Clarke>>
Thursday, January 19: Stage three, Unley to Victor Harbor, 134.5km Won by Andre Greipel>>
Friday, January 20: Stage four, Norwood to Tanunda, 130km Won by Oscar Freire>>
Saturday, January 21: stage five, McLaren Vale to Old Willunga Hill, 151.5km Won by Alejandro Valverde>>
Sunday, January 22: Stage six, Adelaide City Council Street Circuit, 90km Won by Andre Greipel>>
Overall winner: Simon Gerrans

Tour Down Under 2012: TV guide

British broadcaster Sky Sports will be showing selected live coverage and highlights programmes of the 2012 Tour Down Under.

Sky Sports 2012 Tour Down Under TV schedule>>

Tour Down Under 2012: Teams
Tour Down Under 2012 start list>>
Ag2r La Mondiale (France)
Astana (Kazakhstan)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spain)
FDJ-Big Mat (France)
Garmin-Barracuda (USA)
GreenEdge (Australia)
Katusha (Russia)
Lampre-ISD (Italy)
Liquigas-Cannondale (Italy)
Lotto-Belisol (Belgium)
Movistar (Spain)
Omega Pharma-QuickStep (Belgium)
Rabobank (Netherlands)
Saxo Bank (Denmark)
Team Sky (Great Britain)
Radioshack-Nissan (Luxembourg)
Uni SA-Australia (Australia)
Vacansoleil-DCM (Netherlands)

Tour Down Under 2012: British riders
Adam Blythe (BMC)
Alex Dowsett (Sky)
Geraint Thomas (Sky)
Andrew Fenn (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)

Tour Down Under: Jerseys
Ochre (orange) jersey: Overall race leader
White jersey: King of the mountains leader
Blue jersey: Sprint classification leader
Black jersey: Best young rider
Red jersey: Most aggressive rider 

Cameron Meyer, 2011 winner

Tour Down Under: 2011 overall top ten
1. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo in 17-54-27
2. Matt Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad at 2secs
3. Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky at 8secs
4. Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank at 9secs
5. Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank at 10secs
6. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar at 17sec
7. Andre Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 26secs
8. Blel Kadri (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 26secs
9. Allan Davis (Aus) Astana at 27secs
10. Luke Roberts (Aus) Uni SA-Australia at 28secs

Tour Down Under: Previous winners
2011 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo
2010 Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia
2009 Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step
2008 Andre Greipel (Ger) High Road
2007 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2r
2006 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2r
2005 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Liberty Seguros
2004 Patrick Jonker (Aus) UniSA
2003 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Ag2r
2002 Michael Rogers (Aus) Australia Institute of Sport
2001 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole
2000 Gilles Maignan (Fra) Ag2r
1999 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole

Related links

UCI 2012 WorldTour race calendar

Tour Down Under 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

External link

Santos Tour Down Under 2012: official website