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Cycling: Santos Tour Down Under preview

The first race of the 2024 UCI World Tour season gets underway in South Australia on Tuesday courtesy of the Tour Down Under.

It will be the 24th edition of the race, and with crucial World Tour points up for grabs, the Tour Down Under is now a hugely significant race on the calendar.

The off-season is done and dusted and it is time to get back to business in the scenic setting of the Adelaide hills and surrounding areas.

There may be no Tadej Pogacar, Wout Van Aert and Mathieu van der Poel in the peloton, but there are still some big names to excite the fans.

The Tour Down Under will be raced over six days and the parcours has something for both the climbers and sprinters.

Here is our guide to the 2024 Tour Down Under.

WhatTour Down Under 2024
WhereAdelaide, South Australia
WhenTuesday 16th January to Sunday 21st January
How to watchChannel 7
OddsSimon Yates 2.50, Julian Alaphilippe 6.50, Lucas Plapp 10.00

2024 Tour Down Under parcours

The 2024 Tour Down Under will take place over six stages, with the peloton set to cover a total of 824.6km during that time.

The first stage will begin and end in Tanunda on Tuesday and will cover 144km.

Five of the six stages are classified as ‘Hills Stages’ while stage three on Thursday is flat and one for the sprinters.

Two of the biggest tests will come at the end of the race, with the riders tackling Willunga Hill on stage five on Saturday and then Mount Lofty the day after.

General Classification contenders

Jay Vine won the Tour Down Under in 2023, but with the UAE Team Emirates rider skipping the race in 2024, there is no previous winner in the peloton.

However there is still plenty of quality on the start line with Simon Yates of Team Jayco-AlUla the hot fancy at 2.50 to win the general classification.

Yates was in the top 10 in 2023 and will relish the rolling hills and testing climbs over the six stages.

However, he faces strong competition from a number of riders, including Soudal Quick-Step superstar Julian Alaphilippe.

The parcours will also suit the Frenchman, who can be backed at 6.00.

Jayco-AlUla will be keen to impress on home soil and they also have another contender for the GC in the form of Luke Plapp.

The 23-year-old has just been crowned Australian national champion and could flourish in 2024 after making the switch from Ineos Grenadiers.

Plapp is sure to be in the mix and is priced at 10.00.

Ewan targeting stage wins

As well as the general classification battle, the fight for stage wins is also set to be an intriguing one, and Caleb Ewan has a point to prove.

The Australian sprinter is back in familiar surroundings with Jayco-AlUla after an unhappy spell with Lotto-Dstny and will be keen to make a big impact.

He has nine Tour Down Under stages under his belt and will look to add to that tally in 2024.

The first four stages could end with some kind of sprint finish and Ewan should be in the thick of it.

Again the competition will be fierce as a number of top-class sprinters have made their way to Adelaide looking to shine.

They include Phil Bauhaus (Bahrain Victorious), Sam Welsford (Bora-Hansgrohe), Biniam Girmay (Intermarché-Wanty), Elia Viviani (Ineos Grenadiers) and Corbin Strong (Israel-Premier Tech).

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