Defending champion Daryl Impey will lead Mitchelton-SCOTT at the Tour Down Under next week, hoping to become the first male to win back-to-back titles in the race’s 20-year history.
Impey claimed the victory on countback in 2018, before going on to his most successful season to date. With the support of six strong Australian teammates, the South African has his sights set on a repeat, in what has been deemed the toughest edition of the opening WorldTour race of the season.
Luke Durbridge (AUS, 27)
Alex Edmondson (AUS, 25)
Lucas Hamilton (AUS, 22)
Mathew Hayman (AUS, 40)
Michael Hepburn (AUS, 27)
Daryl Impey (RSA, 34)
Cameron Meyer (AUS, 30)
The 2019 course is considered to be the toughest in the event’s history.
Following the People’s Choice Classic criterium on Sunday, the serious racing will begin with expected sprints on the opening two stages. A 14km circuit, with a short but sharp climb, will likely make the first differences in the general classification on stage three, before the Corkscrew climb returns on stage four.
The final weekend of action should see a sprint on Saturday with the famous Willunga stage setting the scene for a dramatic final showdown on Sunday.
Whilst the early-season form and adaption to the heat of the Europeans making their way to Australia for the Tour Down Under can be a little unpredictable, there are some things that are guaranteed.
Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) remains the man to beat thanks to his stranglehold on Willunga Hill. His fellow Australian and former teammate Rohan Dennis (Bahrain-Merida) will also be one to watch. Likewise, punchy riders with similar attributes to Impey, such as Peter Sagan and Jay McCarthy will also pose threats.
The Tour Down Under is a happy hunting ground for Mitchelton-SCOTT. The Australian WorldTour team has won four editions since its inception in 2012, three with Simon Gerrans and one with Impey last year. Amongst the overall successes, the team has also claimed 11 stage victories.
Daryl Impey – Defending Champion:
“Australia has and always will be important for us. We would definitely like to win the Tour Down Under again and we are arriving to try to do just that.
“For me personally, it would be great to win back-to-back. No one has done that.
“I will take it day by day, see where I am at and see where everyone else is at too. My preparation has been going really well, I have been following a similar plan to last season so hopefully it will pay off again. The biggest change for me, and for the team, is that without Caleb we don’t have to worry about his lead out, so I can put more energy into my own goals.
“I like the new route. I don’t think Willunga on the last day will change much. It makes it more exciting, but for me, like last year, I just need to take time where I can and then hope it’s enough.”
Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“Going back to any race as defending champion always puts a big target on your back. Daryl is leading our team and we have won the race four times already, so all teams are looking at what we do. We are ready for the challenge and we have brought a solid team to aid Daryl in his attempt to defend his title, something that has never been done in Tour Down Under history.
“With Caleb or a sprinter, it certainly decreases our work load throughout the week. This is a big advantage for us because we are able to focus our energy expenditure. In the past we were basically trying to win every stage, which was a massive load and stress for the team.
“With Willunga being the final day it certainly does change the dynamic. This race has traditionally been won by very small margins and certain types of riders always had the ability to go after bonus seconds on the final circuit race in Adelaide. With that gone it places even more importance on the last kilometer of Willunga. This year’s edition is the toughest edition in its history with three key climbing stages, something we have never had before.”
2019 Santos Tour Down Under – Race Details:
Sunday, 13 Jan: People’s Choice Classic, Adelaide (1hr + 1lap)
Tuesday, 15 Jan: Stage 1, North Adelaide to Port Adelaide (132.4km)
Wednesday, 16 Jan: Stage 2, Norwood to Angaston (149km)
Thursday, 17 Jan: Stage 3, Lobethal to Uraidla (146.2km)
Friday, 18 Jan: Stage 4, Unley to Campbelltown (129.2km)
Saturday, 19 Jan: Stage 5, Glenelg to Strathalbyn (149.5km)
Sunday, 20 Jan: Stage 6, McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill (151.5km