2016 Tour Down Under Review
Before the People’s Choice Classic I made this prediction in terms of overall favourites:
**** Dennis, Gerrans
** Clarke, Porte, R. Fernandez, Pozzovivo
* Other, Meyer, Ser. Henao
Firstly, Gerrans won in fine style, with OGE riding a flawless race and delivering four wins from six stages, two of which went to Gerrans, this race was theirs in every way. However without time bonuses Gerrans would have finished third, so the dominance was not quite as a apparent on the road compared to the leaderboard, but that is a conversation for another day.
The BMC duo of Porte and Dennis had mixed fortunes. After talking Dennis’ chances up and Porte’s down, the team then went to Porte as leader and he did quite well, missing out on the win by tiny margins considering the peloton split in Victor Harbor and a celebration before the line on Willunga Hill. Dennis however, in service of Richie, finished a minute and a half down and will most likely be disappointed as his service didn’t result in what would have been a deserved win.
Sergio Henao came into the race with much better form than expected, putting in very good performances on Willunga Hill and Corkscrew Road, however his lack of a fast finish left him without bonus seconds at key points, and so a win was always going to be difficult
Ulissi, Pozzovivo, Meyer and Fernandez all performed well, however they lacked the spark needed for victory.
The revelation this year was Michael Woods in his first year at Cannondale. Wrenching leadership from native and fellow new signing Simon Clarke, Woods was fantastic on Corkscrew and performed well on Willunga Hill, showing great attacking spirit and a climbing ability that could see him thrown into a Grand Tour in a domestique role.
Jay McCarthy also held Ochre for a stage after a great win in Stirling, and his unexpected shot at leadership and the overall showed his great potential may well become real this year.
Ewan bossed the sprints, winning the pre-race Criterium and the first and last stages. Pelucchi DNFed early, while Nizzolo and Renshaw performed well in their first outing of the year. Swift would have expected to win a stage but had to settle for a string of high places, and other sprint trains were content to gel and let their lower tier sprinters nab the odd high placing.
- This year is already going better for Simon Gerrans.
- Caleb Ewan will now be feared in the World Tour, and should take stages in his Giro D’Italia debut.
- Richie Porte and Rohan Dennis didn’t have their co-leadership put to the test as Dennis faltered, leaving his work with TVG more unpredictable.
- UniSA-Australia yet again proved their worth, with Chris Hamilton making a very good impression on the World Tour teams being at +58s
- IAM’s lead out train looked strong enough to bag wins but went unnoticed with Pelucchi’s departure.
Part of the peloton will now stay behind in Australia for the Cadel Evans Race and the Herald Sun tour, two magnificent races that will get bigger as the Tour Down Under does. The rest of the peloton may stay for training, while others begin the de facto Middle Eastern leg of the season.
At this point in the season it is still not immediately clear what form riders are in, so it is very possible that come the Ardennes and so on Gerrans is invisible, while Henao and co. are wreaking havoc on the peloton, but at this point we have our best guide, and with multiple thrilling stages we are set for a great season!