Hardest and strongest Tour Down Under ahead for Mitchelton-SCOTTMon 13 Jan 2020
In anticipation of one of the toughest editions yet, Mitchelton-SCOTT will field one of its strongest line-ups in history at the Santos Tour Down Under next week.
The Australian outfit returns with back-to-back reigning champion Daryl Impey, his fellow 2019 Tour de France stage winner Simon Yates and a well-balanced team with sights set on another overall title, including newly crowned Australian champion Cameron Meyer.
The re-introduction of Paracombe for the third time in history and first time since 2017 gives the climbers another prospect to launch an attack, and its combination with Willunga makes it one of the toughest courses Adelaide has to offer.
Mitchelton-SCOTT at the Tour Down Under (19 – 26 January):
Jack Bauer (NZL, 34)
Luke Durbridge (AUS, 28)
Lucas Hamilton (AUS, 23)
Michael Hepburn (AUS, 28)
Daryl Impey (RSA, 35)
Cameron Meyer (AUS, 32)
Simon Yates (GBR, 27)
Whilst there’s ample opportunity for the sprinters, stages three and six are the crucial stages for the general classification with Paracombe and Willunga respectively.
The parcourse is tougher than those of Impey’s past two successes, but still rewards riders with a turn of speed uphill.
The Tour Down Under is a happy hunting ground for Mitchelton-SCOTT. The Australian WorldTour team has won five editions since its inception in 2012, three with Simon Gerrans and two with Impey.
Amongst the overall successes, the team has also claimed 12 stage victories, including one to Impey in 2019.
Daryl Impey – Two-time and reigning champion:
“I think my chances are as good as all the other favourites and it's about making certain stages count to put myself in a position to win it. It is harder because you have a target on your back, but when your form is good enough, it's still down to who has the best legs in January.
“I am glad Stirling is back. I have never quite managed to win that stage but have been close in the past. It’s probably one of my favourite stages.
“Paracombe is tough and it will test me as well as many other rivals similar to me, so we will need to wait and see. I will go all-in to save as much time as possible and assess afterwards what to do. I will prepare slightly different for that type of effort, and hopefully be able to manage them. For me that's going to be a huge decider in the overall winner.
“Overall, it is more suited to climbers, so it will be tougher for guys like me. You will need a stage win in the bag to be able to fight for the win. Willunga is always special and I hope to be going for the overall victory still on this day.”
Simon Yates – 2018 Vuelta a Espana champion:
“As a team, the more options the better for the Tour Down Under. This race has been settled on more than one occasion on bonus seconds so everything will count.
“Daryl has found the winning formula and so we know how to approach the race. I will be there to support him or take my chance as they arise.
“Of course the more climbing the better for myself personally, but regardless, I think as a team we can go in there fully focused to win.”
Matt White – Head Sport Director:
“There’s been no harder course over the last 22 years. We are definitely going into the race with one of the strongest teams we have assembled, against a world class field that are looking to take the title away from us.
“It’s the third time they’ve run Paracombe and with two hill-top finishes it definitely makes it the hardest edition for the all-rounder. But, I still think that the Tour Down Under is always won by seconds, boiling down to key intermediate sprints and bonuses on the line. This isn’t going to change – a small mistake in this race can always be very costly.
“I think stage three is the most crucial stage of the race. It’s not as long as Willunga but it’s definitely harder. If a pure climber does win on Paracombe, it’s going to be very hard for anyone to dislodge them from winning the overall.”
2020 Santos Tour Down Under – Stage Details:
Sunday, 19 Jan: Classic – Adelaide, 51km
Tuesday, 21 Jan: Stage 1 – Tanunda to Tanunda, 150km
Wednesday, 22 Jan: Stage 2 – Woodside to Stirling, 135.8km
Thursday, 23 Jan: Stage 3 – Unley to Paracombe, 131km
Friday, 24 Jan: Stage 4 – Norwood to Murray Bridge, 152.8km
Saturday, 25 Jan: Stage 5 – Glenelg to Victor Harbour, 149.1km
Sunday, 26 Jan: Stage 6 – McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill, 151.5km
Photo courtesy of Getty Images.