As the first World Tour event of the season wraps up for 2017, it is only natural that early season predictions are made and bets are hedged. Of course, being the Santos Tour Down Under, a complete field of riders is yet to be raced with big name athletes like Chris Froome and Vincenzo Nibali missing from the peloton, yet there presence not entirely missing from a race that ticked all spectator-and-rider boxes. One week in and plenty more to go, here’s what you can expect in season 2017.
Ewan ready for Europe
Caleb Ewan (Orica-Scott) dominated the TDU in 2017 through sprinting to victory on four separate accounts over the six stage race. His confidence looks on its way up after a lull in the middle and back end of season 2016, especially after sprinting, and winning, against Peter Sagan and Danny Van Poppel. The pocket rocked ready to rock Europe, Ewan is the sprinter whose coming of age may have just arrived.
Bauer is back
Jack Bauer (Quick-Step Floors) – the name on everyones lips for three straight stages of the TDU from Victor Harbour to Willunga and concluding on the streets of Adelaide. Bauer began riding for a new team in 2017, Quick-Step Floors, after five years at Cannondale Drapac and while he never really away from the spotlight but, concurrently, wasn’t centre stage , 2017 looks to be the year of success. Fresh from time trialing his way to a New Zealand national title, the 3x most combative rider can expect a 2017 not to be forgotten… for all the right reasons.
Porte primed for success
He’s been primed for years though, right? Richie Porte has never been far from success, in fact, he’s succeeded as a rider on countless occasions. However, the elusive TDU title to add to the already enviable palmares has many insiders believing 2017 is the year Porte takes it up a level and turns France on its head in July. Won Willunga, won Paracombe, all thats left is a win in the alps.
McCarthy a future talent
Jay McCarthy (Bora Hansgrohe) flew well under the radar until stage four of this years edition when it became apparent that the young Australian riding in support of Peter Sagan could just make it onto the podium. Sitting in fourth place on the general classification going into the Adelaide street circuit that marks the end of the race, McCarthy took a time bonus that catapulted him to third spot overall. He’s lead World Tour races in the past and indicates that the future is bright for the man from Queensland.
Haas the dark horse of the Australian contingent
Sensing 2017 is a year to make his own, Nathan Haas (Dimension Data) is gearing up for a season in fantastic form. After placing at the Australian national championships and being narrowly edged out from a podium placing in the TDU, Haas looks, races and speaks confident about being the Australian to watch this season.
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Images C/O StuffNZ, Road Cycling NZ, SMH & Instagram (Koen de Kort)