The Tour Down Under begins Saturday January 16th and ends on January 23rd. This marks the beginning of the cycling season. The Tour Down Under is a small tour represented by many of the professional UCI teams, with seven members per team.
The Tour Down Under, in comparison to the major grand tours that most people think of when it comes to professional cycling, such as the Tour de France, Vuelta a Espana, and Giro d'Italia, is a relatively flat tour. A few of the stages are completely flat. Some of the stages have some hills and are largely rolling. One stage has a few substantial hills, actually the same hill twice, but these hills will be nothing like the mountains seen in France, Italy or Spain.
So who is favored to win? This tour leans more towards riders with sprinting legs, but an all-around rider also has a fair shot at winning this tour as well. Cycling is a team sport deep down, and even the best sprinter cannot win this tour if they cannot keep pace before the last three kilometers of the stage. HTC-High Road for this tour is composed mostly of sprinters. That is why I do not think that Mark Cavendish will win this race. I think that Cavendish can get dropped in the hills, and we may see an all-arounder as the winner of the Tour Down Under. I think that there are five riders more likely to win in Australia next week than Mark Cavendish.