A change of guard

UAE Team Emi­rates head Down Un­der with fresh line-up as 2019 be­gins

Sport360 - - Motorsport - By Staff Re­porter @Sport360 ✉ ed­i­to­[email protected]

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.

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