The 2010 race season kicks off in earnest with the six-stage Tour Down Under in Australia on January 19-24, the first ProTour event of the year.
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The Tour Down Under presents a good, if rather early, season-starter for the pros. It’s summer in Australia, so the northern hemisphere professionals can swap ice and snow for warm sun to ease their legs into racing.
The entire event is based in and around Adelaide, South Australia, meaning that the teams can set up base in a hotel and stay there for the duration of the race – no lengthy transfers here.
Even the parcours is inviting – none of the stages exceed 150 kilometres in length, and no time trial stages are included. The toughest thing the riders are likely to encounter is the hot weather.
It’s no wonder, then, that the 2010 race has attracted some of the top names in the sport: world champion Cadel Evans, Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O’Grady, Jens Voigt, Alejandro Valverde and Andre Greipel are all on the start list.
Last year’s race winner, Allan Davis, heads up his new Astana team having made the move from QuickStep at the close of the 2009 season.
Great Britain has three riders in the race, and all are from the new British-based Team Sky: Ben Swift, Russell Downing and Chris Froome. Swift will be looking for individual stage wins, and 2009 Tour of Ireland winner Downing will be looking to impress in his first outing in a ProTour team.
Along with Sky, Armstrong’s RadioShack team also makes its debut at the TDU – the event that launched Armstrong’s comeback to professional cycling last year.
The race starts on Tuesday, January 19, but is preceded by the single day 51km Cancer Council Helpline Classic race on Sunday, January 17, that traditionally includes the teams and riders taking part in the main event.
Tour Down Under 2010: Who will win?
At this stage in the season, it’s hard to pick out a winner – hardly anyone has any racing miles in their legs.
Traditionally the race has favoured the sprinter or attacking rider – such as last year’s winner Allan Davis or two-time winner Stuart O’Grady, who won the first edition of the race in 1999, again in 2001 and is on the start list this year too.
Team Sky’s Chris Sutton and Greg Henderson are on form, having come first and second in the Jayco Bay Cycling Classic in early January. The new Sky team will collectively be looking to set down an early marker.
The start list is littered with former TDU winners who could all put in a good turn to contest for the ochre jersey – Davis, O’Grady, Andre Greipel, Martin Elmiger, Luis Leon Sanchez and Michael Rogers are all at the race. None can be discounted from the overall.
It’s a little early in the year for the big guns to really go for it – so the likes of Lance Armstrong, Cadel Evans and Alejandro Valverde will all be looking to support their team-mates to earn payback brownie points for the Grand Tours later in the year.
Tour Down Under 2010: Stages
Tuesday, January 19 – Stage one: Clare to Tanunda, 141km
Wednesday, January 20 – Stage two: Gawler to Hahndorf, 133km
Thursday, January 21 – Stage three: Unley to Stirling, 132.5km
Friday, January 22 – Stage four: Norwood to Goolwa, 149.5km
Saturday, January 23 – Stage five: Snapper Point to Willunga, 148km
Sunday, January 24 – Stage six: Adelaide to Adelaide (circuit), 90km
Tour Down Under 2010: The winners
Cancer Council Helpline Classic, Jan 17: Greg Henderson (Team Sky), Report>>
Tour Down Under, stage one, Jan 19: Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia) Report>>
Tour Down Under, stage two, Jan 20: Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia) Report>>
Tour Down Under, stage three, Jan 21: Manuel Cardoso (Footon-Servetto) Report>>
Tour Down Under, stage four, Jan 22: Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia) Report>>
Tour Down Under, stage five, Jan 23: Luis Leon Sanchez (Caisse d’Epargne) Report>>
Tour Down Under, stage six, Jan 24: Chris Sutton (Team Sky) Report>>
Overall winner: Andre Greipel (HTC-Columbia)
Tour Down Under on TV
Sky Sports will be covering the 2010 Tour Down Under with daily highlights and live coverage of the end of the final two stages.
January 18 – Cancer Council Classic – Sky Sports 1 – 17:00-17:30
January 19 – Stage 1 – Sky Sports 1 – 17:30-18:00
January 20 – Stage 2 – Sky Sports 1 – 17:30-18:00
January 21 – Stage 3 – Sky Sports 1 – 17:30-18:00
January 22 – Stage 4 – Sky Sports 1 – 17:30-18:00
January 23 – Stage 5 – Sky Sports 3 – 19:30-20:00
January 24 – Stage 6 – Sky Sports 1 – 17:30-18:00
January 23 – Stage 5 – Sky Sports 3 – 00:00-02:30
January 24 – Stage 6 – Sky Sports 4 – 02:30-05:30
Tour Down Under: Teams
Ag2r La Mondiale (France)
BMC Racing Team (USA)*
Caisse d’Epargne (Spain)
Francaise des Jeux (France)
Omega Pharma-Lotto (Belgium)
Quick Step (Belgium)
Sky Professional Cycling Team (GB)
Team HTC-Columbia (USA)
Team Katusha (Russia)
Team RadioShack (USA)
Team Saxo Bank (Denmark)
UniSA Australia (Australia)*
* Wildcard entries
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
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
Tour Down Under 2010: Race reports
Tour Down Under, stage five: Sanchez wins stage five as Greipel clings on
Tour Down Under, stage four: Greipel takes his hat-trick
Tour Down Under, stage three: Cardoso takes win ahead of Valverde
Tour Down Under, stage two: Greipel takes win number two
Tour Down Under, stage one: Greipel takes back sprint crown
Cancer Council Helpline Classic: Team Sky off to perfect start as Henderson wins
Tour Down Under 2010: Related links
Armstrong surprises field with late attack on TDU stage four
Tour Down Under 2010: Photo galleries