The 2013 road cycling season begins in Australia as a selection of the sport’s top riders gather for the 15th Santos Tour Down Under, with extensive coverage on Sky Sports from January 20-27.
The 2013 edition of Australia’s six-stage competition takes riders on a 758km journey in search of the distinctive Ochre Jersey around the picturesque city of Adelaide, concluding with a 20-lap race on the city’s council street circuit.
Sky Sports will screen extensive coverage of the opening event of the 2013 UCI World Tour with all six stages of the race to be broadcast live for the first time.
It’s summer Down Under, allowing the northern hemisphere professionals to swap the cold and misery of winter in Europe for warm and sunnier climes of Australia.
With all stages situated within a stone’s throw of each other, teams can set up base in a hotel and stay there for the duration of the race with no lengthy transfers.
Team Sky begin their fourth year as a professional cycling team in Australia.
The British team made their debut in the sport at this event in 2010 and have wasted little time in writing new chapters in Britain’s sportnig history.
Last year they achieved their highest-ever finish in the Australian event.
Australian Michael Rogers finished fourth in the overall standings, while teammate Edvald Boasson Hagen claimed the blue sprint jersey as well as securing a sixthplaced finish.
Home-crowd favourite Simon Gerrans of Orica-GreenEdge, who had previously worn the colours of Team Sky, triumphed down under in 2013, joining Andre Greipel in a unique class.
Gerrans edged out Spain’s Alejandro Valverde to take the Tour Down Under title for the second time in his career.
Al 18 World Tour squads plus one wildcard, the UniSA-Australia team, line up to take part in the 2013 race with each team fielding seven riders, bringing the total number of participants to 133.
German sprinter Greipel won three stages last year, and returns to head up the Lotto-Belisol team.
Four British riders have signed up for the race, including Andy Fenn (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), and three from Team Sky – including Olympic track cycling gold medallist Geraint Thomas, Luke Rowe and national road race champion Ian Stannard.
Several changes have been made to this year’s schedule. Day one will see three sprints take place in a single stage for the very first time.
Just a day later, the journey from Mount Barker to Rostrevor will not only be the shortest open-road stage in the event’s history, but also arrive at just its secondever metropolitan finish.
Along with these, the Tour Down Under will also include a new element – the Škoda mountain climb – and offer a spread of stages catering for sprinters and all-rounders equally.
Team Sky will be eager to carry the momentum from a phenomenal 2012 into the new year.
A maiden victory in Australia would send a major message to their rivals as they bid to become the world’s top cycling team.
Sky Sports has expanded its live coverage of the Tour Down Under for the 2013 race.
There will be live coverage of all seven stages, plus highlights the 2013 People’s Choice Classic from Adelaide, a closed-circuit road race on January 20 that serves as a preview for the main event.
If you miss any of the live action in the early hours of the morning, each broadcast will repeated on Sky Sports in the mid-morning and afternoon, plus a shorter half-hour review of each stage will be shown in the evening.
Coverage will be presented by Alec Wilkinson, with race commentary from Australian network Channel 9 provided by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.
Sunday 20th January People’s Choice Classic – Adelaide > East End (51km) Highlights: 12.00pm-12.30pm – Sky Sports 4 Tuesday 22nd January Stage 1 – Prospect > Lobethal (135km) LIVE: 2.00am-4.00am – Sky Sports 1 DELAYED: 8.30am-10.30am – Sky Sports 3 HIGHLIGHTS: 6.30pm-7.00pm – Sky Sports 4 Wednesday 23rd January Stage 2 – Mt Barker > Rostrevor (116.5km) LIVE: 1.30am-3.30am – Sky Sports 1 DELAYED: 8.30am-10.30am – Sky Sports 4 HIGHLIGHTS: 6.30pm-7.00pm – Sky Sports 4 Thursday 24th January Stage 3 – Unley > Stirling (139km) LIVE: 2.00am-4.00am – Sky Sports 1 DELAYED: 8.30am-10.30am – Sky Sports 4 HIGHLIGHTS: 6.30pm-7.00pm – Sky Sports 4 Friday 25th January Stage 4 – Modbury > Tanunda (126.5km) LIVE: 1.30am-3.30am – Sky Sports 1 DELAYED: 8.30am-10.30am – Sky Sports 4 HIGHLIGHTS: 6.30pm-7.00pm – Sky Sports 4 Saturday 26th January Stage 5 – McLaren Vale > Old Willunga Hill (151.5km) LIVE: 12.30am-5.00am – Sky Sports 1 DELAYED: 8.30am-11.00am – Sky Sports 4 HIGHLIGHTS: 7.30pm-8.00pm – Sky Sports 3 Sunday 27th January Stage 6 – Adelaide City Council Street Circuit (90km) LIVE: 2.30am-5.00am – Sky Sports 2 DELAYED: 10.00am-12.00pm – Sky Sports 3 Monday 28th January Tour Down Under 2013 Review 7.00pm-8.00pm – Sky Sports 2 . .