Jayco-AlUla have not too long ago headed to Europe with out the lads’s inexperienced and gold nationwide champion’s jersey and the Santos Tour Down Under ochre winner’s jersey. However this yr there’s a actual sense that issues are totally different, with a stronger workforce, extra confidence and loftier ambitions.
Luke Plapp gained each the street race and time trial titles, fellow new signing Caleb Ewan gained the criterium title and the Australian WorldTour workforce has an excellent sturdy line-up for the Tour Down Below.
Simon Yates, Plapp and Chris Harper make a formidable trio to chase total victory on the Tour Down Below. Then there may be Ewan for the early dash levels. If he recovers from the impression of the current Adelaide warmth, Jayco-AlUla have riders to focus on victory day by day and each terrain.
Even earlier than the successful run on the Australian Street Nationwide Championships, the workforce made their intentions in January unequivocally clear, setting the bar excessive for themselves.
“Having Plapp and Ewan be part of us can be an enormous enhance and with Yates returning after he loved a stage win and second place end total… we’re coming in with excessive ambitions to win,” mentioned Jayco-AlUla sport director Mat Hayman within the workforce announcement that got here out mid December.
“Hopefully 2024 can be a memorable one.”
The Australian Street Nationwide Championships definitely was, with Ewan’s nationwide criterium title victory, a clear sweep of the time trial led by Plapp earlier than he went on to take the street title for a 3rd yr operating and once more stand on the rostrum with teammates both facet.
It was a formidable run however can it proceed because the WorldTour racing begins?
The 2023 Tour Down Below winner Jay Vine gained’t be on the road for UAE Workforce Emirates however with Alessandro Covi and Finn Fisher-Black they’ve definitely obtained some highly effective choices on the climbs.
Then after all there may be Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal Fast-Step) who’s coming again to the race the place he first pulled on an Omega Pharma-QuickStep jersey in 2014.
Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) can be one other rider who has early profession recollections on the race, with the Australian having delivered high 20 finishes in 2014 and 2015, in addition to a youth classification win earlier than he headed to the WorldTour.
He hasn’t been again to the race since and so is formidable.
“It’s a race that mainly helped me get knowledgeable contract so it’s very nice to be again,” Haig informed Cyclingnews.
“I’d actually wish to have GC end result, perhaps a high 5. I’m fairly sensible that it’s actually early within the season and you’ve got some guys that particularly goal this and the GreenEdge workforce, it’s clearly an important race for them.”
That doesn’t essentially imply Jayco-AlUla all the time win it, with the Australian squad having a 50/50 file within the final ten editions. Tight margins typically resolve the ultimate Tour Down Below winner so there may be loads of room for surprises.
The six-day WorldTour stage race from Tuesday 16 January to Sunday January 21 begins with 4 levels which can be more than likely choices for the sprinters and breakaways.
The primary stage does three laps of a course that begins and finishes in Tanunda they usually embody the climb of Menglers Hill, although it’s a downhill run to the road.
Then it’s onto stage 2 with the Fox Creek climb, twice, and a end in Lobethal. It resembles a stage of the 2021 Santos Competition of Biking, which Luke Plapp gained whereas he was racing for the Australian nationwide workforce.
“I believe stage two can be exhausting. I believe that most likely will not be a dash however the remainder are undoubtedly three good dash days,” Plapp informed Cyclingnews within the lead in to the Australian summer season racing.
“Then the weekend can be tremendous exhausting, which I believe is de facto thrilling. It form of builds as you go.”
Stage 3 to Campbelltown and stage 4 to Port Elliot are the final probabilities for the sprinters with Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious), Sam Welsford (Bora-Hansgrohe), Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers) and Jayco-AlUla’s Ewan among the many riders to observe.
Ewan sat out Friday’s pre-race criterium, after a scorching coaching session on Thursday, however is predicted to be on the beginning line Tuesday. He will certainly be the sprinter to beat as he tries to return to his finest and win once more.
After the opening 4 levels, the weekend will all be concerning the climbers and GC contenders.
Stage 5 finishes with two ascents of the long-lasting Willunga Hill and is the opening salvo within the weekend’s GC battle.
Then it’s onto Mount Lofty for the stage 6 finale, with three ascents of the climb as the ultimate battle for the ochre chief’s jersey unfolds.
Whoever wins atop Mount Lofty is prone to take total victory. Jayco-AlUla are hoping it’s once more their flip.