Submitted by twitter user @cyclingbolar
In 2019, the Tour Down Under has presented a bit of a tougher route than previous years with one major change. Firstly, the major change is the Willunga stage now finishes on the final day, so there will be no grabbing of bonus seconds on a city circuit on the last day to get onto the podium. It’s all or nothing up Willunga. In regards to the route, we see the return of Corkscrew Climb and a new circuit stage in Uraidla which replaces the Stirling stage, and is a similar circuit, but a bit tougher.
As always, the race should be decided by bonus seconds. So the race favours someone who can sprint and climb. The only way a rider that doesn’t suit those characteristics wins is if they can solo the stage into Campbelltown like Cadel Evans did in 2014, or get a big enough margin on Willunga. The former will be tough to do and the latter, Richie Porte has been the only one that can.
So let’s look at the contenders. The odds I have listed next to the riders are current.
Mitchelton-Scott is all in for Daryl Impey ($7.50/$2.75). What is different for Impey this year compared to last year is that he doesn’t need to work for Ewan, so he can potentially pick up bonus seconds on sprint stages. Likewise, the stage to Uraidla is a good one for him to win. The Corkscrew Climb into Campbelltown, if he is on form should be no trouble to him either. In 2014 when Cadel Evans won, Impey was in the chase group fighting for second. There is a goo chance Impey could be in the lead heading into the final stage and all he will need to do is fight hard on Willunga like last year.
Bora Hansgrohe will be all in for Jay McCarthy $17/$4. McCarthy finished third in 2017 and fourth in 2016. Last year he finished 19th which was a disappointment for him. With that said, McCarthy is in better form than last year as well as being older and in better form than in 2017 and 2016. He can sprint and climb and he has Peter Sagan that will lead him out or take bonus seconds away from rivals. The only problem for McCarthy is that he has never finished within 20 seconds of Richie Porte on Willunga. And Porte will be favourite again to take that stage he has dominated since 2014.
Speaking of Richie Porte $4.25/$1.80, he is the favourite and Trek Segafredo have a strong team to support him. I think Porte is a false favourite here. He can’t sprint and for him to win he will need to either solo the Campbelltown stage or arrive with one or two other riders, and then solo again on Willunga. The former is going to be hard but the latter should be easy. Porte’s tour will go down to the Corkscrew climb.
Team Katusha will be riding for Nathan Haas $26/$7. Haas has finished high in this race before and he can sprint. He and Jay McCarthy fought for bonus seconds the last few years on stages and no doubt will try again. Haas had a bad tour last year with the heat and illness costing him. In 2017 he finished fourth overall. We could see a fight between Haas and McCarthy for the win in Uraidla and if Haas can be in the first group into Campbelltown, again he and McCarthy would be favourites for the stage. With that Uraidla stage being a bit tougher, the route does suit Haas to challenge for the win.
UAE Team Emirates have Diego Ulissi $21/$6. Ulissi always does well here and always finishes around the mark on Willunga. The good news for Ulissi this year is that the Uraidla stage suits him. With it being a bit harder, there is a chance it can drop some of the sprinters like Ewan and maybe Impey depending on how it’s ridden. Stirling never really suited Ulissi in recent years because the sprinters could be there at the end, but now with Uraidla, it’s tough enough for Ulissi to win. If someone solos the Campbelltown stage, he will most likely finish in the small group behind so won’t lose too much time and he always performs on Willunga. He is a very good chance to win this year. If he wins the stage into Uraidla and finishes top 3 into Campbelltown, I’d say his chances of winning would be 80%.
CCC Team bring a nice outsider in Patrick Bevin $34/$9. The Kiwi can climb and sprint and has performed well here in the past. He is a top 10 finisher on the Willunga stage and can also finish well in the Campbelltown stage. Bevin is on good form winning the New Zealand Time Trial Championships and finishing 5th in the Road Race. He is a rider that cannot be underestimated and will be one of the favourites for the stage into Uraidla as well as Campbelltown.
Team Sky are riding for Wout Poels $6.50/$2.30. Poels is targeting this race and if in form, he is going to be very close to winning it. He could solo away from everyone into Campbelltown and should hold his own on Willunga. If anyone can challenge Porte on that climb, it is Poels. He could also do well on the Uraidla stage. Poels is someone that cannot be underestimated and he is a very good chance to win.
Team Dimension Data will be riding for Ben O’Connor $34/$7.50. O’Connor won’t be able to outsprint the climbers that can sprint, so his chance of winning boils down to the same as Porte’s. Solo or with 1 or 2 riders into Campbelltown and then ride away from everyone on Willunga. Ben’s chances of winning are slim, but if he can get away with one or two riders or even solos into Campbelltown, he is a very good chance to podium. Tom-Jelte Slagter $21/$6 is a former winner and can win again if O’Connor doesn’t have the legs and they end up riding for him.
EF Education First will be riding for Michael Woods $5/$2.10. Woods broke through last year with a stage win in the Vuelta a Espana. He really doesn’t have a strong sprint so he is in the same boat as some others. With that said, he does have the ability to solo away into Campbelltown or be with one or two other riders. Last time the race went here in 2016, both Woods and Geraint Thomas got away from everyone else on Corkscrew but were caught on the descent. If he can get away with riders, then he has a chance to consolidate on Willunga Hill depending who is with him. Again, like others, if he can’t make that time on that stage, then he is going to find it hard to win.
Bahrain Merida will turn their attention to Rohan Dennis $17/$6 and Domenico Pozzovivo $41/$11. Dennis is a former winner and can win the stage into Campbelltown and can ride well on Willunga. Pozzovivo is a solid climber. He crashed the other day but should still be good to go. Either way, this gives Bahrain a two-pronged attack, particularly for Campbelltown but I just can’t see either winning.
Team Sunweb will be riding for Chris Hamilton $26/$7.50. Hamilton’s form doesn’t seem to be there and he can’t outsprint some of the other climbers, so he is going to find it difficult to win.
Team Jumbo Visna will ride for George Bennett $11/$3.50 but Bennett is in the same position as guys like Woods and O’Connor.
Former winner Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana) $51/$13 is suited by the route. He always performs well at the start of the season but hasn’t gone well here the last few years. If he has the form we know he is capable of, he will be a good underdog.
For the sake of the preview I will mention the other teams and their GC riders, but don’t expect them to come close to winning.
Deceuninck Quick-Step have Dries Devenyns $26/$7.50 and James Knox $34/$9,
UniSA should be riding for Chris Harper $126/$34
Movistar for Rafael Valls $81/21
Groupama FDJ will probably protect Kilian Frankiny but stage wins will be their main goal.
Ag2r La Mondiale will have Pierre Latour $26/$7.50 and Nico Benz $34/$9
Lotto Soudal will be looking for stage wins with Caleb Ewan in the sprints and Thomas De Gendt in the stages they might fancy for the breakaway.
Tips & Prediction
Odds found at Bet Easy
Woet Poels @ $7/$2.30 (2)
Daryl Impey @ $7/$2.75 (2)
Tom-Jelte Slagter over Michael Valgren @ $1.95 (6)