As the Santos Tour Down Under rolls into Adelaide to herald the start of the 2020 cycling season, South Australia takes centre stage as host of the top tier of world cycling, taking spectators from Glenelg to Gumeracha and everywhere in between.
The opening race of the UCI World Tour calendar offers the opportunity to uncover who the marked men are at the start of the season.
Legs being dusted of off-season cobwebs, new team formations making race debuts; the streets of South Australia are a blank canvas for what the sport holds in 2020, both domestically and into the European Spring.
Heading into the race’s 22nd edition, there are a number of cyclists with eyes firmly placed on them, eager to see what type of performance can be conjured once the starting gun has been fired in Tanunda on Tuesday.
Full of former champions and place getters, here’s our list of riders in the hunt for General Classification (GC) honours. Feel the rush!
Daryl Impey – Team Mitchelton Scott
Two-time defending champion Daryl Impey comes in as the man every team is looking to put time into.
Initially a surprising winner in 2018 – winning narrowly on a count-back atop Willunga Hill – Impey solidified himself the following year as a rider who can, seemingly, do it all.
A time-triallist at his core, Impey can climb when pushed and sprint when the extra seconds are crucial.
With the strength of his Australian team often unmatched by others at the TDU, Impey has a full armada propelling his push to complete the special threepeat.
Richie Porte – Team Trek Segafredo
As every TDU comes around, the murmurs on the street all strike a chorus: “Do you think Richie Porte will win? Is this Porte’s year?”
Richie Porte doesn’t come to Adelaide for a summer training camp. Riche Porte comes to South Australia meaning business.
In 2017, Porte took victory overall on the GC alongside a win on Willunga Hill, one of his six consecutive victories at the race’s Queen Stage.
From stage three, Unley to Paracombe, Porte will come out to play alongside the other strongmen seeking to add their names to the honour role of victors.
Rohan Dennis – Team INEOS
Rohan Dennis is not meant to win the race overall. He’s a specialist time trial rider, and the current World Champion at that.
But in 2016, the South Australian stormed to victory on the climb at Paracombe and continued his stellar form to win overall ahead of a competitive field.
INEOS is typically a stronger team in every race they enter, not looking simply to field a team as required but to send a team with every intention of reaching victory.
Sidenote: for some quality Instagram content ranging from cycling memes to a look at the day in the life of a World Champion, chuck Dennis a follow @rohandennis.
Romain Bardet – Team AG2R LA MONDIALE
A debut appearance from a world tour favourite! Romain Bardet has previously been heralded as the saviour of French cycling (don’t tell Thibaut Pinot), the Frenchman having stellar stints at the Tour de France in both 2016 and 2017.
Bardet is a strong GC rider at his best form, able to capitalise on his climbing abilities to take time where needed, often amounting to crucial seconds built up that become a saving grace later in the race.
The TDU often boils down to a matter of seconds on the final day, as seen with Impey in 2018, and Bardet’s enviable abilities as a top-tier GC rider places him in prime position to make an impact this week.
Patrick Bevin – Team CCC
The breakout star of the 2019 TDU, Patrick Bevin carried on courageously on the final stage despite crashing hard on the penultimate route into Strathalbyn.
Whilst he did not take overall victory, Bevin snagged an individual stage and the overall Sprint classification, putting the rest of the field on notice.
In his fifth-consecutive appearance at the event, the Kiwi rider is hungrier than ever after coming so close in last year’s crucial final stages.
Image by Liam Fiddick