© BORA – hansgrohe / Bettiniphoto

Article submitted by twitter user @cyclingbolar

The Tour Down Under this year should be an interesting race. The Stirling stage is back, and the other change is a new stage up Norton Summit with an 8km downhill finish. The climb isn’t that hard, so it will be hard to get away. What does it mean? It means bonus seconds will have a bigger say than in previous years on who wins this race.

Stage 1

Lyndoch will host the stage finish again and it should be a bunch sprint. Andre Greipel looked insanely good last night in the classic and he should take the win today.

  1. Andre Greipel
  2. Caleb Ewan
  3. Elia Viviani

Stage 2 

The Stirling stage is back. 4 loops of a tough little circuit. Pure sprinters won’t win here, and a punchy sprinter that can climb or a GC contender with a fast kick will take this stage. Based on his form last night you can’t go past Peter Sagan on a finish that suits him.

  1. Peter Sagan
  2. Diego Ulissi
  3. Jay McCarthy

Stage 3

A finish in Victor Harbour. Another sprint coming up. I think Ewan will time it right and take the win today.

  1. Caleb Ewan
  2. Andre Greipel
  3. Sam Bennett

Stage 4

This is the most difficult stage to predict. What the hell will happen here? We could see Lieutenants of the main contenders try and go away to give them more options on Willunga the next day. George Bennett, Rohan Dennis, Peter Kennaugh, Gorka or Jon Izagirre, Daniel Moreno, Cameron Meyer, Chris Hamilton, Michael Valgren, are some of the names that could try for a late attack. Or we could see a reduced group sprint between the GC contenders, in which case Nathan Haas, Jay McCarthy, Diego Ulissi, Simon Gerrans are the front runners for the stage victory. Kennaugh solo.

  1. Peter Kennaugh
  2. Jay McCarthy
  3. Nathan Haas

Stage 5

Willunga Hill, soon to be named Porte Willunga Hill. Richie Porte has won here the last 4 years. He won’t be denied a 5th time.

  1. Richie Porte
  2. Ruben Fernandez
  3. Nathan Haas

Stage 6

The famous Adelaide street circuit. I expect the GC to be tight so bonus seconds will be taken by the GC contenders but it will be a sprint like always. Viviani takes the win.

  1. Elia Viviani
  2. Andre Greipel
  3. Caleb Ewan

So we’ve had a look at the stages, so who will win the overall?

Betting odds courtesy of Unibet

BMC have Richie Porte ($2.20/$1.30), Simon Gerrans ($21/$6.50) or Rohan Dennis ($13/$3.50) that can take the win. Whilst Porte should gain time on Willunga hill, he doesn’t have a sprint so will lose time on Stage 2 and Stage 4. If BMC were smart, they would have Gerrans sprint for stage 2 and then have Dennis attack on stage 4 and if the stage 4 attack doesn’t work, have Gerrans sprint to take bonus seconds off McCarthy/Haas. Try and keep all options open ahead of Willunga. Maybe Gerrans will be used in the intermediate sprints to deny those two challengers from picking up seconds would be smart play also.

Bora-Hansgrohe have Jay McCarthy ($5.50/$1.90) as their leader. After coming third last year, he’ll look to take top spot and I think he is the favourite for this race. As mentioned he can sprint and picked up bonus seconds last year and still had energy to figure in stage finishes. He can win on Willunga and can win stage 4. Peter Sagan $9/$2.75 is 4th in the market but forget him. No way he wins.

Katusha-Alpecin have Nathan Haas ($6/$2.10). Came 2nd to Porte on Willunga last year and came 4th overall after losing third place to McCarthy due to bonus seconds on stage 6 last year. Haas is getting better year after year and is getting to the stage where he is going to win races and show us the talent he has and why everyone thought he was going to be an excellent rider a few years back. Very good chance to win. This is his best chance yet to get an overdue win.

UAE Team Emirates have a solid team here. Diego Ulissi ($10/$3) was third here in 2014. He can get the bonus seconds on Stage 2 and 4 and limit his losses to Porte on stage 5. He’s a danger man. Former world champion Rui Costa ($17/$4.50) is a good candidate to solo attack on stage 4 and perhaps get away and win the stage. Even if he doesn’t, Ulissi has a good team-mate to help him here.

Movistar will be riding for Ruben Fernandez ($41/$10). He was 5th in his Neo Pro year in 2015 and 6th in 2016. He does have a kick but not as good as Haas and McCarthy but, he is an excellent climber. After a bad year last year with injuries and illness, he is looking to bounce back big time. He loves the heat and loves this race. He won’t win, but a podium is a very good chance.

LottoNL Jumbo have a two pronged attack in Kiwi George Bennett ($67/$17) and Robert Gesink ($81/$19). Will get a good result on Willunga, but overall it will be tough. Not without a chance with one of them though.

Team Sky will be riding for talented Neo-Pro Egan Bernal ($26/$7). This guy is a rider to watch for the future. Will be a star. At 19 in the pro-peloton already gives a good indication of that. He should do well on Willunga, but in his first professional race, won’t have enough to challenge for the podium but top 10 is a possibility.

Dimension Data have 2013 winner Tom Jelte Slagter ($34/$9) here. He should be thereabouts but don’t think he’s good enough to win it. Top 10 most likely. Australian’s Lachlan Morton and Ben O’Conner could surprise with a good stage result at some point during the race.

Bahrain Merida have a strong trio. Domenico Pozzovivo ($67/$17) is their leader and will be supported by Gorka Izagirre ($41/$10) and Ion Izagirre ($51/$13). Pozzovivo doesn’t have the kick that guys like McCarthy and Haas have so they need to animate Stage 4 like crazy and have riders in contention to attack on Willunga. They want all 3 in the top 10 overall which is very possible. Gorka is always good here. Kept up with Porte last year and then crashed and was injured ahead of Willunga.

EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale (this name is going to be bloody hard to write all the time as the year goes on) have Brendan Canty ($81/$19) as their leader. Daniel Moreno has a kick and could do well on stage 4. Will Clarke will animate the breakaways.

Team Sunweb have Sam Oomen ($51/$13) and Chris Hamilton ($151/$41) as their GC guys. Hamilton impressed at stages last year and I reckon he has a good shot to win stage 4. Expect one of these guys in the top 10.

AG2R La Mondiale have Pierre-Roger Latour ($41/$11) as their man guy. He’s usually good at the start of the year but he doesn’t have the kick required like the other contenders. They will animate the race in breakaways. Maybe Latour gets top 10. Unlikely.

Astana have former champion Luis Leon Sanchez ($51/$13) and Michael Valgren ($201/$51). Sanchez has a great record in this race with numerous stage wins too. One or the other could do well on stage 2 and 4. Willunga hill, however, that will be where they would lose their time to the other contenders so one of these riders would need a good buffer. Tough.

Mitchelton Scott is all about stage wins for Caleb Ewan and then for Daryl Impey on stages 2 and 4 and perhaps Edmondson on Willunga. They won’t have anyone in contention for overall honours but Impey could do a top 10.

Lotto Soudal are the same. All in for Andre Greipel. Thomas De Gendt, Adam Hansen and Bjorg Lambrecht will try and animate the race. No GC guys. Lambrecht won’t be riding, pulling out today after confusion with the biological passport registration and not being in the system long enough to be able to compete. He could have challenged for top 10, but most likely top 20. He will now train with the team this week and head to their next race in Melbourne with them where he’ll be able to ride.

Groupama FDJ don’t have anyone to challenge overall honours so they will try and animate the race. Likewise Trek-Segafredo who will probably ride for Ruben Guerreiro who came 18th last year. He will look to improve on that. UNI-SA have Nathan Earle and Tim Roe, but they won’t figure high up on the GC. They will look to animate the race with their riders and sprinters Steele Von Hoff and Sam Welsford. Quick-Step will hope for a top 20 from Enric Mas $151/$41, but they will be more focused on Elia Viviani for the sprints for their big results.

Top 10 Predictions

  1. Jay McCarthy
  2. Nathan Haas
  3. Ruben Ferandez
  4. Richie Porte
  5. Diego Ulissi
  6. Domenico Pozzovivo
  7. Gorka Izagirre
  8. Robert Gesink
  9. Brendan Canty
  10. Egan Bernal

Suggested Bets

Ruben Fernandez top 3 @ $10
Jay McCarthy to win @ $5.50

Ruben Fernandez over Pierre-Roger Latour @ $1.90
Brendan Canty over Nathan Earle @ $1.90