“Outsider” Picks to Shine in Santos Tour Down Under
Media outlets have named Andre Greipel, Simon Gerrans, Cameron Meyer, Edvald Boasson Hagen, and Alejandro Valverde as possible favorites to win the overall 2012 Santos Tour Down Under. Here are some outsiders who could sneak through these marked men and possibly win.
- Steele Von Hoff (UNI SA – Australia). Von Hoff and Nathan Haas raced for the same team last season and they both lit up the road; Von Hoff won 18 races in 2011 and came in sixth in the 2012 Australia National Championships road race. He landed in the Garmin camp for 2012 like Haas, but on the Chipotle Development team. The non-Aussie peloton might not be as familiar with him as Haas, which could allow him to surprise the non-Aussie favorites. Von Hoff sprints very well.
- Heinrich Haussler (Garmin-Barracuda) is very motivated; he frequently mentions that he must perform this year because it is “a contract year.” He’s a strong sprinter and demonstrated he’s going well by finishing third in the warm-up Down Under Classic. Nathan Haas has described Haussler as “Australian through and through.” Haas is the new kid on the team. As long as Haussler is strong I think Haas will ride for him to help an Australian and more senior member of his new team win.
- Romain Feillu (Vacansoleil – DCM) or Jose Joaquin Rojas (Movistar). Stages 2, 4, and maybe even 3 have slightly uphill finishes in the last kilometer and these two sprinters are good at uphill finishes. Both fared well during the 2011 Tour de France and finished in the first group at the Down Under Classic. If the favorites don’t amass enough time bonuses with top three sprint results on most stages, these two could have a chance.