The 2015 road cycling season gets into motion this January with the traditional trip to Australia for the Santos Tour Down Under, live on Sky Sports.
First held in 1999 and now firmly the traditional starting point on the cycling calendar, this Adelaide-based race has grown to become one of the biggest events on the global UCI tour calendar.
The Tour Down Under offers cycling fans a first chance of the year to glimpse the peloton’s new riders, teams and jerseys in action, and once again has a hilly flavour, so expect the pure and punchy climbers to be to the fore in the first UCI WorldTour race of the 2015.
Competitors face a gruelling 812km route around Adelaide, culminating in a 90-kilometre street race on King William Road.
Simon Gerrans captured his third victory at this event after edging a thrilling final stage last year, having taking the lead in the overall standings in the fifth stage, then was pushed all the way by team-mate and rival Cadel Evans on the final day but eventually triumphed by a single second.
Last year’s winner will be absent this time around through injury, so Team Sky’s Richie Porte and 2011 Tour de France winner and home-crowd favourite Cadel Evans, in his last major outing before retirement, are the among the picks for victory.
Evans he will be keen to go out with a win and also to make amends for last year, when he finished runner-up, just one second down on winner Gerrans.
Fellow Australian Porte is arguably the best climber in the field and is the bookmakers’ favourite, having finished fourth last year and is backed by a powerful Team Sky squad.
A final Australian who could contend for victory is Michael Rogers, a powerful rider who can climb with the best. He won the Tour Down Under way back in 2002 and finished fourth in last appearance, in 2012.
For British cycling fans, attention will focus on the Team Sky foursome of Pete Kennaugh, Luke Rowe, Ian Stannard and Geraint Thomas, all of whom are now seasoned professionals within the ranks of the peloton.
The six-day race kick starts what promises to be another dramatic year of cycling around the world and the first race on the UCI World Tour calendar will be screened in its entirety live on Sky Sports.
With a four-way battle for Tour de France victory brewing, multiple attempts on the hour record planned, the first edition of the Tour de Yorkshire being held and the usual collection of classics and stage races also on the schedule, 2015 will be another exciting year for the sport and it all starts Down Under this January.
Sky Sports will broadcast the entire 2015 Santos Tour Down Under from Australia as the race kicks off its coverage of a selection of the world’s biggest cycle races during the 2015 season.
There will be live overnight coverage of all six stages from January 20-25, plus extended highlights of the People’s Choice Classic on January 18, with each live broadcast repeated in full on Sky Sports in the mid-morning and afternoon, as well as in primetime.
This year, Sky Sports will take the entire world feed presentation provided by host broadcaster Channel Nine for its live coverage, featuring commentary from the legendary duo of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, as well as Australian cycling legend Robbie McEwan.
For more information about the 2015 Santos Tour Down Under, visit the official website.
Sunday 18th January People’s Choice Classic – Adelaide 50km circuit race Highlights: 6.00pm-7.00pm Sky Sports 3
Tuesday 20th January Stage 1: Tanunda > Campbelltown (133km) LIVE: 1.30am-3.30am Sky Sports 1
Wednesday 21st January Stage 2: Unley > Stirling (150km) LIVE: 2.30am-4.30am Sky Sports 1
Thursday 22nd January Stage 3: Norwood > Paracombe (143km) LIVE: 2.30am-4.30am Sky Sports 1
Friday 23rd January Stage 4: Glenelg > Mt Barker (144km) LIVE: 3.00am-5.00am Sky Sports 1
Saturday 23rd January Stage 5: McLaren Vale > Willunga Hill (151km) LIVE: 12.30am-4.30am Sky Sports 1
Sunday 25th January Stage 6: Adelaide City Street Circuit (90km) LIVE: 2.30am-5.00am Sky Sports 1