The Tour Down Under is back!
“Everybody is motivated and looking forward to the race.”
It’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, and Australia’s great bike race is back!
Alberto Bettiol, Mikkel Honoré, Jens Keukeleire, Sean Quinn, Jonas Rutsch, Tom Scully, and Łukasz Wiśniowski will kick off the 2023 WorldTour season for us at the Tour Down Under. It is the traditional start to the professional cycling season.
The race starts with a prologue at 6 p.m. Tuesday evening in Adelaide (that’s 8:30 a.m. CET, 2:30 a.m. EST, and 11:30 p.m. Monday PT). Five stages will follow, taking the peloton to the wine country and beaches surrounding South Australia’s coastal capital, before the crux on Mount Lofty at the finish of the final stage. Only then, will the race for overall winner’s ochre jersey be decided.
The locals are raring to go. It’s the height of the antipodean racing season, and the Aussies and New Zealanders have been looking forward to their home WorldTour race for months. So have their fans. After two years of cancellations due to the pandemic, tens of thousands of them are ready to jump on their bikes to ride out to the course to cheer on the racers or fire up their barbecues at home and turn the Tour Down Under into the awesome celebration of cycling that it always is.
It’s not going to be a party race for the bike racers. EF Education-EasyPost sports director Tom Southam expects this year’s Tour Down Under to be the toughest yet.
“It is the first clean run at a three-year World Tour cycle that we are going to get, so we are going to see different racing, potentially harder racing than there has ever been at the Tour Down Under,” he says. “We’ve got a different final stage to the one from before, and there are fewer formulaic stages for the sprinters. If the temperatures don’t get too high during the race, I could see it being a much more aggressive race than it has been in the past, which I think is what the race organisers are hoping for.”
EF Education-EasyPost is ready to set the tone for 2023 at the Tour Down Under. Mikkel Honoré is especially excited to start his first WorldTour race with us.
“I am feeling good and looking forward to getting started with the new team,” Mikkel says. “It is nice to be here with super nice guys in a super nice atmosphere, and I am just looking forward to getting started. It is early in the season. The winter has been going well, training has been going well, so I am confident that I will go well as well, but we will see after the first couple of days how the shape is compared to the other guys. I will take it a bit day by day, and then see for the GC.”
Tom Southam thinks that Mikkel might surprise some people. The teams with the strongest Australian contingents might be the favourites, but Tom has been quietly impressed by Mikkel’s form.
“We should be realistic with our goals, but I think we should be pushing towards a very high overall classification at the end of the week,” Tom says. “We saw that Mikkel is motivated for the season with the way he rode two nights ago, and he has done his homework. He is in very good shape. We have got a good balance in the team. No matter what happens in the stages, and there is potential for crosswinds to come into play during this race, we have got guys like Lukasz and Tom and Jonas. I am very comfortable with the guys we have. They have all had this as something to prepare for for several months now, so they are ready for it.”
We are optimistic. The riders have spent several days together, riding through the hills around Adelaide and being cheered by the local fans. They have really gelled.
“We did a lot of team building stuff, and the atmosphere is good,” says Jonas Rutsch. “It’s the first race, so everybody is in good condition. Everybody is motivated and looking forward to the race in a good way.”
The 2023 WorldTour season is about to get started. Tune in. The first test is Tuesday in Adelaide.