A change of guard
UAE Team Emirates head Down Under with fresh line-up as 2019 begins
The UCI World Tour 2019 is just around the corner and UAE Team Emirates has announced a fresh looking line-up for the opening race of the season, the Santos Tour Down Under.
There are debuts for winter signings Ivo Oliveira and Jasper Philipsen, while Tadej Pogacar, who signed his first professional contract with the team back in August, will also make his hotly anticipated debut in Emirati colours.
The trio of new comers will be joined by team-mates Diego Ulissi, Jan Polanc, Sven Erik Bystrom and Rory Sutherland – the latter of whom will be hoping for a strong performance, riding on home soil for the first time in three years.
Commenting ahead of the race, Ulissi said: “I’m motivated to start the season again in Australia. It’s a beautiful race given the course and the high level of participants.
“Given the competitors, it’s a must to arrive in Australia with a good feeling if you want to be in contention for the General Classification.
“I had a good winter and I have worked to be competitive in this first race. It will be very interesting to see how the new arrangement of stages, with the final Willunga Hill stage, will impact the race.”
As the opening race on the UCI World Tour calendar, the six-stage Santos Tour Down Under provides a unique challenge to all riders, particularly those used to riding in cooler climates.
Stage One of the Tour Down Under will see the peloton set off from North Adelaide and head into the Adelaide Hills, where they will work their way around a circuit before turning back into the city and crossing the finish line in Port Adelaide. The second stage will push riders out into Barossa Valley.
This stage has produced some sensational performances, particularly when it comes to the up-hill sprint finish, where sprinters will have to time their challenge to perfection to have any chance of taking the victory. Stage Three from Lobethal to Uraidla should be a straightforward stage for many riders, but the introduction of a 14km circuit in the closing part of the race could throw up unexpected surprises as the sprinters and their lead out teams fight for position at the front of the bunch.
Riders return to the Adelaide Hills for Stage Four, for a relatively short race at just 129km.
Spectators can expect this to go right down to the wire, in what has grown to become a spectacular way to start the cycling season.
Ahead of his debut, Jasper Philipsen said: “The course of the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Race should suit me well. For me it’s a bit unknown with the shape and the parcours knowledge, but in regards to my condition, it will be clearer after the feedback I’ll have during the first week in Australia.
“I’m very motivated and ready to race with my new team.”
03 debutants for Team Emirates in Australia
New start: Ivo Oliveira.