The 35-year-old Australian has won the race on three previous occasions: 2006, 2012 and 2014. A win this year would see him celebrate the 10th anniversary of his first TdU victory in style.
Gerrans was forced to miss last year’s race thanks to an untimely crash in training, resulting in a broken collarbone. An amazingly unfortunate series of crashes and injuries then punctuated the remainder of 2015, with Gerrans involved in race-ending incidents in Strade Bianche, Liege-Bastogne-Liege, the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
Paddy Power currently has Gerrans at 7/2 to take the 2016 victory in the six-stage opening WorldTour race, with last year’s winner Rohan Dennis and new BMC team-mate Richie Porte both at 9/2.
British hope Geraint Thomas (Sky) is temptingly listed at 11/1, followed by Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida) at 12/1.
Newly-crowned Australian road race champion Jack Bobridge, who returns to the WorldTour with Trek-Segafredo after a year with Australian squad Budget Forklifts, is 66/1.
For those who like a really optimistic punt, Ian Stannard (Sky) and Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) are both 500/1.
Stage five on January 23 to Willunga Hill is likely to be the race decider, with two ascents of the climb usually creating a final selection and shaping the top 10 overall before a final slat stage in Adelaide.
The full provisional start list for the race has now been published, with 20 teams comprising seven riders apiece.
Tour Down Under: Recent winners
2015 Rohan Dennis (Aus) BMC
2014 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
2013 Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco
2012 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEdge
2011 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo
2010 Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia
2009 Allan Davis (Aus) QuickStep
2008 Andre Greipel (Ger) High Road
2007 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2r
2006 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2r