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by Shane Stokes
January 9, 2018
ASO announces wildcard teams for Tour de France and other events; Dumoulin believes aiming for Giro and Tour might be possible; Tour de l’Avenir winner Bernal psyched to start Team Sky phase of career; Team Sky line-up announced for Santos Tour Down Under; Almost three years after quitting anti-doping group, Bardiani-CSF rejoins MPCC; MPCC says Bardiani’s acceptance is on a probationary basis; Video: Katusha announces Santos Tour Down Under line-up; Video: 7 News blast pro rider’s ‘stunt’
Team Sky has named its squad for the first race on the WorldTour calendar, the Santos Tour Down Under. New signing Egan Bernal will target the general classification, and will be joined by neo-pros Kristoffer Halvorsen and Chris Lawless, the Britons Jon Dibben and Owain Doull plus Salvatore Puccio and Lukasz Wisniowski.
“It’s a really young and exciting team and we’re keen to see how these guys develop,” said the team’s Directeur sportif Brett Lancaster. “We’ll be gunning to try and take a stage win. We’ve got Kristoffer as our lead sprinter. His form is a bit unknown coming straight from Norway and stepping off the plane into temperatures of close to 40 degrees.”
He said that Puccio was the road captain for the race and also the most experienced in the squad. As for Bernal, he lacks experience, but makes up for that in talent. “Egan has already raced in a lot of big races. He’s no longer a neo-pro but he’s very young still,” Lancaster said. “It’s going to be a really good chance to see where he is at, especially against the Australian riders who are in a home race and adapted already. We’ll see what happens come Willunga Hill and we’ll look to put him in a good position.
“It’s Willunga again where the race should be decided. Stage four has a good climb too but it’s similar to what we’ve seen in recent years. That Willunga day will be interesting for sure.”
Halvorsen said that it would be his first time in Australia and that he was looking forward to it. “The weather is really good and the stages are not too long, so it suits me well as a first ever World Tour race. Hopefully it will be really good.” The race begins on January 16 and runs for six days.