The Team Presentations kick started the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under. With the event the first chance for many cycling fans to see their favourite riders in person. It was also the first chance for many to see the 2014 race kits. The newly opened Victoria Square hosted the event alongside the Adelaide City Council Tour Village and Bike Expo as part of the Santos Festival of Cycling.
Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwin, so synonymous with international cycling hosted the event, introducing the teams and interviewing the more prominent or colourful characters in each. With most teams now sporting at least one Australian, there was plenty to keep even the most casual fan interested.
The local team of Uni SA promised to continue their reputation for animating the race, and “Pocket Rocket” Caleb Ewan giving them a very good chance for a stage win. The second of the 3 Australian teams taking part in this year’s event, Drapac Pro Cycling, who are making their UCI World Tour debut, also made it clear that they were not merely at the TDU to “participate”. Orica Green Edge, the strongest and most experienced of the Aussie teams, was lead out by newly crowned Australian National Road Race Champion Simon Gerrans.
Of the international riders Jens Voit was clearly the crowd favourite, receiving boisterous applause in what could be his last appearance in Australia as a pro rider. Andre Greipel, with a total of 14 stage wins at the TDU, will lead the Belgian Lotto Belisol outfit. Although this year’s event is not best suited for a sprinter to win the GC classification, he will be chasing his 3rd win overall. His German countryman, Marcel Kittel stated that he was looking forward to the building rivalry between the two and will be looking to build on his strong 2013 showing at the Tour De France.
The loudest applause was saved for Cadel Evans and his BMC team. Fresh from his strong ride at the Australian Nationals where he finished 2nd the typically coy Evans could not downplay the expectation placed on him, stating that “they were not here for training”. The only Australian to ever win the yellow jersey at the Tour De France, is this year targeting the pink jersey at the Giro D’Italia in May, and is racing the Tour Down Under with the riders expected to support him at that event.
Another Australian rider with a strong chance at this year’s TDU is the Team Sky rider Richie Porte. Also targeting the Giro, he has come to Adelaide in strong form finishing 3rd behind Gerrans and Evans at the Australian Nationals.
The Santos Tour Down Under runs from 19th-26th Jan.