Southam blog: Stars at the Tour Down Under and race tactics

I read the cycling press religiously at races. A lot of what is read or written can be quite generic. Two reasons being, firstly that there is not a lot to say pre-race – everyone wants to do well, let’s be honest, and secondly because anyone with any sense wants to keep their cards close to their chest.

From what I’ve been reading here some of the more obvious stuff like peoples form and ambitions have been quite clear, but one of the more interesting themes I have picked up on in the press around the Tour Down Under is that the some people consider the field here is perhaps lacking in big stars, compared with the star-studded Tour de San Luis, in Argentina.

To be honest the point is debatable at best, Down Under is obviously a World Tour race, with those ever so valuable World Tour points, and still boasts Grand Tour contenders of the likes of Porte, Dennis and Thomas, not to mention probably the most exciting young sprinter in the world right now in Caleb Ewan.


Fortunately we’ve been able to put a team in both races this year for the first time, but being Australia’s only World Tour race it is a no brainer for us that we put a great deal of focus into the Tour Down Under. The interesting thing about the quality of field conversation for me however is how the lack of big stars will affect the way that the race is run.

The reality is that in January big stars (see Tour de France contenders) can often be a way from their best form, but the influence that their presence has on a race does not diminish, however.

In a race with big stars the psychology of the rest of the field subtly changes. It is obvious who the contenders will be, and it is those riders that dictate how the race is run. Meaning that practically a lot of riders switch off to the possibility of winning, and instead either work for their leaders, or get ready to tow the line depending on how Vincenzo Nibali‘s team (for example) want the race to be run.

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