[Underneath article was written before the start of the Tour Down Under and has not been updated.]
While many European pros are still training to get in form when the Tour Down Under appears on the calendar, Australians are deeply motivated and focused. For starters, it is their homerace, which is also played out back to back with the Australian championships. So it’s no surprise that most editions were won by Australians, although Daryl Impey tipped the balance a bit in the last two years. In fact, the South African is the only rider to defend his Tour Down Under title with wins in 2018 and 2019.
Given the reintroduction of the Paracombe climb on stage 3 we are likely to see a new kind of winner in 2020. Impey collected time bonuses in the hilly stages and limited his losses on the only summit finish – Willunga Hill -, a recipe for success that he borrowed from record holder Simon Gerrans. The retired Australian is a four time champion, winning the GC in 2006, 2012, 2014 and 2016.
The reintroduction of the Paracombe climb on the third day along with the Willunga Hill finish on the last day are primed for the climbers to showcase their talents. The first is a 1.2 kilometres toil at 9.9% and the second slopes at 7% for 3 kilometres.
Richie Porte is the king of Willunga Hill. He won the race in the last six editions, while the Paracombe finish was included twice. Rohan Dennis took the spoils in 2015 and Richie Porte in 2017. Interestingly, both went on to win the GC in those years.
As always, the heat could play a key role Down Under. Obviously, rising temperatures are advantageous to home riders, who have acclimatised better to the conditions than riders from more wintry climate zones.
Former winners at the start of the 2020 Tour Down Under are Luis León Sánchez (2005), André Greipel (2008, 2010), Cameron Meyer (2011), Rohan Dennis (2015), Richie Porte (2017) and title defender Daryl Impey (2018, 2019).
Favourites 2020 Tour Down Under
***** Richie Porte, Rohan Dennis, George Bennett
**** Simon Yates, Romain Bardet, Pavel Sivakov
*** Mads Pedersen, Daryl Impey, Cameron Meyer
** Robert Power, Diego Ulissi, Dylan van Baarle
* Luis León Sánchez, Nathan Haas, Jay McCarthy