Team Sky have revealed a strong line-up for the opening UCI WorldTour race of next season – the Tour Down Under – with Australian Richie Porte bidding for glory in his home country as he gears up for the Giro d’Italia.
Porte will share the team leadership with Geraint Thomas, who spent time in the ochre leader’s jersey in this year’s race on his way to finishing third overall and topping the points classification.
Thomas’ place on the overall podium ensured it was the third team Team Sky had a rider in the top three at the race in their four-year history.
And Tasmanian ace Porte hopes he can continue the trend this year as he starts his preparations for a maiden Grand Tour victory at the Giro d’Italia.
“I want to go to the Tour Down Under and perform,” he told the team website. “As an Aussie it’s the race to win.
“It used to be a sprinter’s race but now there are some good climbs in there. 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 there – if not me then through Geraint Thomas – we also have a really good chance.
“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.”
Fellow Aussie Chris Sutton will also ride for the British team, alongside tireless domestiques Ian Stannard, Bernhard Eisel and Welshman Luke Rowe, who is preparing for a second assault on the Classics next year.
New signing Phillip Deignan, the Irish former Vuelta a Espana stage winner, completes the line-up and will make his debut in Sky’s famous black and blue jersey.
Coach Kurt-Asle Arvesen will lead the team down under, and believes they have a great chance of earning overall victory.
“We have a really strong team,” he said. “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 a strong group.”
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