Team Sky rookie pro Kristoffer Halvorsen has had a rough introduction to the WorldTour peloton, crashing at speed in the People’s Choice Classic on Sunday and fracturing a bone in his hand.
The under-23 road world champion injured his right hand when he hit the barrier in the closing metres of the prelude criterium that Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) won ahead of André Greipel (Lotto-Soudal) and Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott).
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Halvorsen limped over the finish line with support from teammate Salvatore Puccio and was treated by team staff before being taken for a scan. The team later confirmed that he had a metacarpal fracture and will not start the Tour Down Under on Tuesday.
Sky had been working for the 21-year-old in the 50.6km race.
“We know that he’s fast so he’ll be a bit disappointed but this was just about the lead-out and they’ll debrief on that afterwards. They were racing full-on for him, they didn’t get it right but it’s part of the whole process,” coach Rod Ellingworth said.
Sky in previous years have fielded established line-ups at the Tour Down Under, often including classics specialists in Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and the injured Luke Rowe.
However, they have opted for fresh faces this year.
“Geraint wanted a slower start, which we agreed with,” Ellingworth said. “Stannard, we wanted to change the program a little bit for him so we’ve done that.”
Halvorsen, Chris Lawless, Egan Bernal and Jonathan Dibben are among the youngest of the new look squad in Australia that also includes Puccio, Lukasz Wisniowski and Owain Doull.
“They’re part of the elite team but within that you’ve got the young lads. There are things you want to tick off to say, right, they’ve experienced that, they can move on and they know how to manage long haul flights, as an example,” Ellingworth said.
“The other thing is, other than Bernal, these guys are all part of the classics group as well so it’s good to have them here.”
Ellingworth coaches four riders on the Down Under squad and said the six-stage race, which begins officially on Tuesday, will serve as opportunity for the largely developing line-up.
“We don’t have a major overall objective because it’s a bit unfair, you know, Halvorsen is 21, Egan was 21 yesterday, so they’ve never ridden WorldTour. It would be wrong of us to go, right your first race with the team, we’re expecting big things,” Ellingworth said.
“But what it is about is commitment, the discipline, this is about them learning our system and the team’s way of racing. It’s all that. The results will come or they won’t but we’re not going to be over stressed. It’s more about how they are commitment wise.”
The 2018 Tour Down Under starts on Tuesday, January 16, and finishes on Sunday, January 21.