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Tour Down Under Teams are made of This

January 14, 2012

Here’s a theory. Since the Santos Tour Down Under (TdU) happens so early in the road racing season – or basically launches it, team composition should follow this formula:

  • grand tour contenders won’t participate because it’s too early for them to rise to good form,
  • classics guys will ride it because they need to achieve great performance very soon,
  • domestiques can race the TdU and still work hard throughout the season to support their team leaders,
  • Australian riders get a place because as a WorldTour event it’s their biggest home race.

The Garmin-Barracuda roster for the TdU fits the theory pretty well.

In the last few years Ryder Hesjedal started lots of stage races. But he finished second at Amstel Gold in 2010 and top 10 the same year in several classics-style races such as the Clasica San Sebastian and Gran Prixs Montreal and Quebec. Of course a.k.a. “weight of a nation” rode well in 2010 overall, the year of his seventh place in the Tour de France. Perhaps Hesjedal will be counted on for Garmin-Barracuda’s spring campaign this year.

David Millar and Ryder Hesjedal during 2012 team presentation after-party (Mary Topping)

Martijn Maaskant, Heinrich Haussler, and Andreas Klier fit the “classics” guys definition.Haussler, along with Nathan Haas, also contributes an Aussie presence to the squad. 2012 is Haas’ first year with the team. At 22 years-old and based on how he’s described his current form, Haas falls into the domestique category. He’s said his program should include some spring classics such as Amstel Gold.

Jack Bauer told the media his schedule will include spring racing. Also new to the team, Bauer joins Haas in the domestique category for the TdU and he’s likely to support Robbie Hunter and perhaps Haussler in several stages that could end in bunch sprints.

The team formula theory holds up with one exception: it lacks a sprinter category. Hunter’s role should be competing for sprint wins. Just tonight Hunter tweeted, “So finally the start to the season, gonna be super fast. Don’t think I’ve ever seen so many sprinters at TDU before. Bring it on!!” [abridged quote]

Team Garmin-Barracuda’s Santos Tour Down Under Roster:

31. HESJEDAL Ryder (CAN)

32. BAUER Jack (NZL)
33. HUNTER Robbie (RSA)
34. HAAS Nathan (AUS)
35. HAUSSLER Heinrich (AUS)
36. KLIER Andreas (GER)
37. MAASKANT Martijn (NED)

Previous TdU overall winners competing in 2012

Seven of the eleven past overall winners ride this year: Cameron Meyer, Simon Gerrans and Stuart O’Grady all now on GreenEDGE; Martin Elmiger, still on Ag2r; Andre Greipel, now with Lotto-Belisol; Luis Leon Sanchez now on Rabobank; and Michael Rogers on Sky.

Past overall winners:

2011        Cameron Meyer (AUS) Garmin-Cervélo

2010        Andre Greipel (GER) HTC Columbia

2009        Allan Davis (AUS) Team Quickstep

2008        Andre Greipel (GER) Team High Road

2007        Martin Elmiger (SWI) AG2R Prévoyance

2006        Simon Gerrans (AUS) AG2RPrevoyance

2005        Luis Leon Sanchez Gil (ESP) Liberty Seguros Team

2004        Patrick Jonker (AUS) UniSA

2003        Mikel Astarloza (ESP) AG2R – Prevoyance

2002        Michael Rogers (AUS) AIS

2001        Stuart O’Grady (AUS) Crédit Agricole

2000        Gilles Maignan (FRA) AG2R

1999        Stuart O’Grady (AUS) Crédit Agricole

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