Race fans are in for an early treat this year with three of the world’s best sprinters going head-to-head in the opening event in the UCI’s 2011 WorldTour calendar, the Tour Down Under.
Kicking off on Sunday January 16 with the stand-alone, one-day Cancer Council Classic warm-up race, the main Tour Down Under features six stages in and around Adelaide, Australia from Tuesday, January 18 to Sunday, January 23.
Sprint aces Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), 2008 and 2010 winner Andre Greipel (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Cervelo) will clash in the bunch sprints for the first time this year.
It’s summer in Australia, so the northern hemisphere professionals can swap ice 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 – 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 – but that’s not to say that the racing won’t be fast.
Two further British riders join Cavendish in the line up for the event: Team Sky duo Ben Swift and British national champion Geraint Thomas.
All 18 ProTeams will contest the race in addition to local wildcard entry, Uni SA-Australia bringing the total to 19 squads with seven riders apiece.
Team Leopard-Trek makes its top-level racing debut at the race, and fields a squad featuring former double winner Stuart O’Grady (1999 and 2001).
The 2011 Tour Down Under is also notable as being the final professional road race outside the USA for seven-times Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong (RadioShack) two years after he made his comeback from retirement at the race in 2009.
Mark Cavendish and Bernhard Eisel warm-up in Adelaide
Tour Down Under 2011: Latest news
Cavendish feeling well after relentless night
Cavendish plans to fight on despite Down Under crash
Swift benefits from Sky’s strength and crashes for first win
Armstrong grumpy Down Under due to new doping allegations
Swift settles into Sky’s lead-out role
Cavendish holds fire at Tour Down Under
Cavendish-Greipel duel: Let the fun begin
Sky’s Thomas keeping covered Down Under
Armstrong faces questions on doping investigation and 2009 payments
Armstrong in Adelaide: One more time
Tour Down Under 2011: Who will win?
Tour Down Under 2011: Start list
Farrar heads Garmin-Cervelo’s Down Under assault
Cavendish to face Greipel Down Under with in-form Goss
Cavendish to start 2011 Tour Down Under
Farrar to ride Tour Down Under
Tour Down Under 2011: Stage reports
Tour Down Under 2011: Photo galleries
Tour Down Under 2011: Stages
Sun Jan 16: Cancer Council Classic, won by Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad)
Tues Jan 18: Stage one – Mawson Lakes to Angaston, 138km, won by Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad)
Weds Jan 19: Stage two – Tailem Bend to Mannum, 146km, won by Ben Swift (Team Sky)
Thurs Jan 20: Stage three – Unley to Stirling, 129km, won by Michael Matthews (Rabobank)
Fri Jan 21: Stage four – Norwood to Strathalbyn, 124km, won by Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Cervelo)
Sat Jan 22: Stage five – McLaren Vale to Willunga, 131km, won by Francisco Ventoso (Movistar)
Sun Jan 23: Stage six – Adelaide City Council Street Circuit, 90km, won by Ben Swift (Team Sky)
Overall classification: Cameron Meyer (Garmin-Cervelo)
Tour Down Under 2011: TV guide
Highlights and some live coverage of the 2011 Tour Down Under will be shown on satellite channels Sky Sports 2 (channel 402), Sky Sports 3 (channel 403) and Sky Sports 4 (channel 404). Select programmes will also be shown in high definition.
Monday, January 17, 10am. Tour Down Under, highlights (Cancer Council Classic), Sky Sports 3 & 3HD
Monday, January 17, 2.30pm. Tour Down Under, highlights (Cancer Council Classic), Sky Sports 3
Tuesday, January 18, 6.30pm. Tour Down Under, highlights, Sky Sports 2
Wednesday, January 19, 5am. Tour Down Under, Sky Sports 2 & 2HD
Wednesday, January 19, 6.30pm. Tour Down Under, Sky Sports 2 & 2HD
Thursday, January 20, 2am. Tour Down Under, Sky Sports 4
Thursday, January 20, 3.30am. Tour Down Under, Sky Sports 2 & 2HD
Thursday, January 20, 6.30pm. Tour Down Under, Sky Sports 2 & 2HD
Friday, January 21, 6pm. Tour Down Under, Sky Sports 4 & 4HD
Saturday, January 22, 12am. Tour Down Under LIVE, Sky Sports 4 & 4HD
Saturday, January 22, 3pm. Tour Down Under, Sky Sports 4HD
Sunday, January 23, 2.30am. Tour Down Under LIVE, Sky Sports 4 & 4HD
Sunday, January 23, 4pm. Tour Down Under, Sky Sports 4 & 4HD
Tour Down Under 2011: Teams
Tour Down Under 2011: Full start list, with race numbers>>
Ag2r La Mondiale (France)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Omega Pharma-Lotto (Belgium)
Saxo Bank-SunGard (Denmark)
Team Sky (Great Britain)
Uni SA-Australia (Australia)
Tour Down Under 2011: British riders
Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)
Ben Swift (Team Sky)
Geraint Thomas (Team Sky)
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
Tour Down Under: 2010 overall top ten
1. André Greipel (Ger) HTC Columbia 18-47.05 hrs
2. Luis Leon Sanchez (Esp) Caisse d’Epargne at 11 secs
3. Greg Henderson (NZl) Team Sky at 15 secs
4. Robbie McEwen (Aus) Katusha at 17
5. Luke Roberts (Aus) Milram at same time
6. Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC at 21 secs
7. Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha at 25 secs
8. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma Lotto at 26 secs
9. Robbie Hunter (RSA) Garmin Transitions at same time
10. Markus Fothen (Ger) Milram at 27 seconds
Tour Down Under: Previous winners
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