The 2014 season-opening UCI WorldTour event (January 19-26) has been a successful one for Team Sky in the past, with the team finishing on the overall podium on three of the last four occasions.
With third place overall, a solo stage victory and a spell in the Ochre jersey in 2013, Geraint Thomas returns to the race to lead the team alongside Tasmanian Richie Porte.
Porte begins his Giro d’Italia preparations at his home race, tackling the stages around Adelaide for the first time since 2011.
The event will form part of the team’s build up for the prestigious Spring Classics once again, with success in Australia a key stepping stone for the riders.
Making his debut in Team Sky colours, Philip Deignan makes the trip and is joined by former Tour Down Under stage winner and home favourite Chris Sutton. Bernhard Eisel, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard also return to add major horsepower to a squad looking to start the year off in style.
[quote_center]“I want to go to Tour Down Under and perform,” said Richie Porte. “As an Aussie it’s the race to win.”[/quote_center]Stannard, Rowe, Thomas, Sutton and Eisel were part of Team Sky in this year’s Tour Down Under. Edvald Boasson Hagen won’t return to Australia while Mathew Hayman defends the colors of Orica-Greenedge next year. Porte is one of the two newcomers in Team Sky’s line-up. The Tasmanian hasn’t raced the Tour Down Under since 2011 but is ambitious for next year’s edition.
“It used to be a sprinter’s race but now there are some good climbs in there like Corkscrew and Willunga. I’ve spent a bit of time in Adelaide so I know the climbs pretty well. I think if I’m in good form and we have a strong team there – if not me then through Geraint Thomas – we also have a really good chance. He was brilliant there last season so it should be an interesting race.
“It’s great that there’s interest from an Australian perspective with Cadel [Evans] starting his season there – myself, Simon Gerrans and guys like that. I’ve been in Australia for the last month and you can see how big cycling is getting. People are really taking an interest.”
Team Sky Race Coach Kurt-Asle Arvesen added: “We have a really strong team heading to the Tour Down Under. Both Geraint and Richie have a good chance of being up there.
“It’s a nice course and it looks like there will be two key stages again like last year for the GC. We need to be on our toes. We learned our lessons last year that we need to get out there well before the race. That’s what we’re going to do this year. It’s always a great way to start the season and we’ll be more than ready for the race.
“Everyone is motivated: the Classics guys, Philip in his first race and also Richie. It’s been a few years since he’s done the race. He’s been out there in Adelaide and he knows the key stages. It’s a strong group.”