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"For the GC we are counting on newcomer Rafael Valls, we would like him to end in the top ten of the ranking. Last year he won the Tour of Oman in February which proves he can be in good shape early in the season."

Photo: Muscat Municipality/Paumer/B.Bade

ADAM HANSEN

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GREGORY HENDERSON

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LOTTO SOUDAL

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PIM LIGTHART

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RAFAEL VALLS

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THOMAS DE GENDT

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TOUR DOWN UNDER

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14.01.2016 @ 19:15 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Last weekend, Adam Hansen and Greg Henderson took part in the national championships of their countries Australia and New Zealand respectivelu. Within three days, on Sunday, January 17, the Lotto Soudal team will ride its first race of the year: the People’s Choice Classic in Adelaide. One Tuesday the Tour Down Under will start, a race of six stages in the region around Adelaide and the first WorldTour race of the season. The team will stay one more week in Australia because on Sunday 31st January the riders will participate in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Melbourne. 

 

The People’s Choice Classic is an evening criterium in the streets of Adelaide, a city in the south of Australia. The participants have to cover thirty laps of 1.7 kilometres, in total 51 kilometres. This race is ideal for sprinters.

 

“Just like last year, André Greipel is not a part of the selection for the Tour Down Under," Mario Aerts, sports director Lotto Soudal, said. 

"Last year, this has proved to be the right choice so we want to do the same. André will start the competition at the end of the month at the Challenge Mallorca.

 

"In Australia Greg Henderson, the experienced lead-out of André Greipel, is our man for the sprints. The criterium in Adelaide is made for fast men but also in the Tour Down Under there are opportunities, definitely in the first and the last stage.”

 

The first stage of the Tour Down Under is indeed a flat stage of 130 kilometres. A day later, they head for Stirling where it is possible that a small group will sprint for the victory. On Thursday the final will be tricky with a climb at the end, the final five and a half kilometres are going downwards toward Campbelltown. Also in the fourth stage, with finish in Victor Harbor, there is a climb approximately twenty kilometres from the end. Maybe an opportunity for some escapees?

 

The penultimate stage with its 151.5 kilometres is the longest of the six stages. The riders have to climb Willunga Hill twice. The second time will be decisive for the victory of the day and maybe also for the final victory since the last stage will end in a sprint. Like the People’s Choice Classic, the last stage is in Adelaide, where the riders have to cover twenty laps of four and a half kilometres.

 

“I rode the Tour Down Under five times as a cyclist and in our team there are also many cyclists who know this race very well," Aerts said. "Nevertheless, we have planned two trainings of about five hours before Sunday and we will take our time to do a recon of some finals.

 

"For the GC we are counting on newcomer Rafael Valls, we would like him to end in the top ten of the ranking. Last year he won the Tour of Oman in February which proves he can be in good shape early in the season.

 

"During the stage to Stirling, I think there is a big chance that a small group will battle for the victory. The day after will certainly be important for the GC with a climb in the finale. During the stage to Victor Harbor the wind can influence the course of the stage. The stage to Willunga Hill will be decisive for the overall ranking.

 

“We want to maintain our offensive style of last season and we have taken the riders to do this. Just think of Thomas De Gendt, who probably cannot wait to go along in a breakaway. Adam Hansen is always in shape in the Tour Down Under and will want to show himself to the home crowd. Pim Ligthart is also always in good shape at the beginning of the season. Last year he provided for the first victory of the season for Lotto Soudal by winning the GP La Marseillaise. Who knows, he might pull the same off in Australia. As usual I expect the Australians, who will be extra motivated, to be tough competitors. Especially Orica-GreenEdge and BMC will be very strong.”

 

The Tour Down Under ends on Sunday 24th January but the team stays in Australia. On Sunday January, 31 Lotto Soudal takes part in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Melbourne, a city more than 700 kilometers east of Adelaide. This race is 174 kilometres long and is partially held on the circuit of the World Championships in Geelong in 2010.

 

Lotto Soudal team: 

Lars Bak, Thomas De Gendt, Gert Dockx, Adam Hansen, Greg Henderson, Pim Ligthart and Rafael Valls.

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