Australian BMC leader Richie Porte is aiming to become first rider to win consecutive editions of the Tour Down Under (January 16-21)
The 32-year-old broke his twice bridesmaid status at the race last year and is motivated to take a career second ochre jersey in Adelaide, Australia.
Porte has the strongest team on paper and will be able to call on 2015 winner Rohan Dennis as well as four-time race champion Simon Gerrans during the six-stage event.
The trio, along with former Australian national road champion Miles Scotson, fronted the media on the eve of the race to talk tactics, and new BMC supplements partner Swisse.
The first WorldTour race of the season will mark Porte’s return to stage racing following a crash in stage nine of the Tour de France last year in which he fractured his clavicle and pelvis.
The recovery from that seems a distant memory and the Australian’s form appears to match his motivation.
Porte claimed bronze at his national time trial championships earlier this month and easily kept in touch with the main field in the ensuing road race in which he was 14th.
He also took confidence from a hit-out at the People’s Choice Classic prelude criterium on Sunday.
“[I had] good sensations last night but I’ve got a fantastically strong team here as well, so I’m super motivated and looking forward to kicking the season off proper tomorrow,” he said.
“Simon and I we were talking about it the other day, nobody has gone back-to-back. Simon has won it sort of every second year but of course it would be nice motivation to go back-to-back.
“But I think it’s easy to be motivated here for this race. It’s one of the best races on the calendar.”
Porte, however, will still have his challengers.
Three-time world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) rolled through the tour last year but fired an early warning shot to the competition, claiming the prelude criterium on the weekend.
The 2018 Tour Down Under starts on Tuesday, January 16, and concludes on Sunday, January 21.