Monday, January 16, 2012
Favorites for Tour Down Under 2012
1. Simon Gerrans
The GreenEDGE-captain has already won the race (back in 2006) and seems to be as strong as ever this early in the season. His impressive win in the Australian championships showed that Gerrans has the right punch in his legs right now and with the finishes in Stirling (stage2) and on Willunga Hill (stage5) this year’s route really seems to fit the little Aussie. Not to metion that Simon Gerrans must be more motivated than ever riding in the colors of the new GreenEDGE team on home soil.
2. Michael Rogers
Next rider up is another Aussie. Michael Rogers lost his 2011-season to injuries but is now back in shape and ready to win. Like Simon Gerrans, Rogers also showed great legs in the national championships, on the time trial, where he ended 3rd only 16 seconds behind U-23 World Champion Luke Durbridge. One could argue that Team Sky already have Edvald Boasson Hagen for the overall classification, but according to the Norwegian it is Michael Rogers who is the captain. Rogers wants to win and I have no doubts his team will back him. Remember Rogers isn’t that slow in a sprint in a smaller group either. Look out for him on Willunga Hill.
3. Alejandro Valverde
After being out for two years Alejandro Valverde is now right back in the peloton and according to his teammates he is extremely motivated to show he still has got what it takes to win races. Normally Valverde would be the main favorite a race like this year’s Tour Down Under, but after being out for two years it’s difficult to predict. I think Valverde will be ready, but it might take a couple of months before he’s got his old race rhythm back. Stages like the one in Sterling and on Willunga Hill will show just how good the Spaniard is already.