Aussie cycling great Richie Porte will be focussed on claiming the Ochre Leader’s Jersey when he headlines Team Sky Pro Cycling at the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under.
Porte recorded an excellent season in 2013 including his first overall victory at a UCI WorldTour event when he won the Yellow Jersey at the Paris-Nice stage race.
Team Sky Pro Cycling is bringing an experienced team to support Porte including British cycling sensation Geraint Thomas who finished third at the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under.
Minister for Tourism Leon Bignell said Aussie cycling fans were likely to be split like never before with the Cadel Evans camp, the Orica-GreenEDGE bunch and Richie's supporters all cheering from the sidelines.
“With these great Australian riders racing against each other, I’m sure there will be a lot of noise and excitement coming from the crowd,” Mr Bignell said.
“Richie Porte is one of the greatest Australian cyclists on the UCI WorldTour circuit and he will be a strong contender for the Ochre Jersey.
“Cycling fans will be in for a treat with Porte and Cadel Evans, two of the best cyclists in the world, set to battle it out for the Ochre Jersey and I imagine we will see some of the best climbing in the history of the Santos Tour Down Under.
“The calibre of cyclists the Santos Tour Down Under attracts is world-class and it is fantastic to see two Australians coming into the race as favourites.”
Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur said Team Sky Pro Cycling were bringing a strong team to support Porte.
“Austrian cyclist and Santos Tour Down Under veteran Bernhard Eisel will make his seventh appearance at the race alongside former British Road Race Champion Ian Stannard,” Mr Turtur said.
“British cyclist Geraint Thomas who finished third overall at the 2013 Santos Tour Down Under will be an asset for Porte particularly given Thomas’ brilliant climbing abilities.”
Team Sky Pro coach Kurt-Asle Arvesen said a strong team was heading to the Santos Tour Down Under, “both Geraint and Richie have a good chance of being up there.”
“It’s a nice course and it looks like there will be two key stages again like last year for the GC. We need to be on our toes,” he said.
“We learned our lessons last year that we need to get out there well before the race. That’s what we’re going to do this year. It’s always a great way to start the season and we’ll be more than ready for the race.
“Everyone is motivated: the Classics guys, Philip Deignan in his first race and also Richie. It’s been a few years since he’s done the race. He’s been out there in Adelaide and he knows the key stages. It’s a strong group.”
Team Sky Pro’s Richie Porte said “as an Aussie, the Tour Down Under is the race to win.”
“It used to be a sprinter’s race but now there are some good climbs in there like Corkscrew and Willunga,” he said.
“I’ve spent a bit of time in Adelaide so I know the climbs pretty well. I think if I’m in good form and we have a strong team there – if not me then through Geraint Thomas we also have a really good chance. He was brilliant there last season so it should be an interesting race.
“It’s great that there’s interest from an Australian perspective with Cadel (Evans) starting his season there – myself, Simon Gerrans and guys like that. I’ve been in Australia for the last month and you can see how big cycling is getting. People are really taking an interest.”
The Team Sky Pro Cycling team competing at the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under will be led by manager Kurt Arvesen and includes riders Philip Deignan (Ireland), Bernhard Eisel (Austria), Luke Rowe (Great Britain), Richie Porte (Australia), Ian Stannard (Great Britain), Christopher Sutton (Australia) and Geraint Thomas (Great Britain).
The Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 19-26 January 2014.
Visit www.tourdownunder.com.au for all event information.