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Stuart Dalgleish 15th Jan 2010 - 15:47

Team Sky aiming for a flying start

Team Sky have put together an impressive array of talent and will be the team that everyone's focusing on as the Tour Down Under kicks off the 2010 season.

The TDU is a race that historically has been good for sprinters, and one of Team Sky's best sprinters is Greg Henderson (12/1) who finds himself up there with the favourites for the event.

The New Zealander had a decent 2009 season where he claimed a stage at the Vuelta a Espana, the Vuelta a Murcia and the Volta a Catalunya, he also won the one day event in Almeria - the Clasica de Almeria.

Under Dave Brailsford's management can he get off to the best possible start in 2010 and claim the TDU?

He'll almost certainly have to get past Allan Davis (10/3) you would've thought, who is the defending champion and also finished top of the Points Classification having claimed three stages on the way.

The Aussie will also be riding for a new team, signing on with Astana having performed so well under Quick Step for two years.

Another quite formidable opponent will come in the shape of Andre Greipel, who had an absolutely sensational year in 2009, the highlight winning the green jersey for Points Classification in the Vuelta a Espana; he also had three other race wins as well as 17 stage wins in various events throughout the year. The German is the even money favourite for the TDU.

Other challengers will come from the likes of Jose Joaquin Rojas (11/1) who's finished 3rd for the last two years as well as winning the Youth Classification, Christopher Sutton (20/1), who's also moved team for the new season, joining the Team Sky revolution - the 25 year old won the Bay Classic Series earlier on this month and is a good sprinter.

The controversial Gert Steegmans (33/1) will be debuting for a new team after having his contract terminated with Team Katusha following the anti-doping scandal, the Belgian refused to sign an agreement before the Tour de France that Katusha wanted their members to pay a fine of five times their annual salary should they get tested positive for a doping substance.

It led to him getting dropped from their squad for the Tour and later on in the year he signed for Team RadioShack, which Lance Armstrong is also racing for, but Armstrong isn't fancied to challenge for the main jersey and as such is available at a massive 200/1 to win the TDU.

Armstrong isn't alone in being a big name at the wrong end of the betting, as also at huge odds are Cadel Evans and Vuelta a Espana winner Alejandro Valverde - both available at a whopping 200/1.

This first stage gets underway on 19 January and sees the rider's travel 141km from Clare to Tanunda, with a climb 114km in where points are awarded, the final stretch is all flat for 25km.

Stage two sees the cyclists go from Gawler to Hahndorf, riding 133km; the stage is mainly flat but has a climb at the start for the first 30km.

The third stage (from Unley to Stirling) is pretty much the same distance as the previous day, but it's the hardest climb of the Tour at this point, it comes at around 40km into the ride at Wickhams Hill Road, after that the course undulates gradually after remaining at the elevation level reached following the climb.

In the fourth stage the riders travel the longest distance of the tour, going 149.5km from Norwood to Goolwa, and they have to again over come a difficult climb, up Fox Creek Road after 25km, a long descent from the climb leads the riders to the final stretch which is flat for 70km.

Stage five is the most difficult stage of the tour, ending in a two-lap circuit in Wilunga, which has two visits to the Old Willunga Hill Road - the most tasking climb of the race.

The final stage is on a closed road circuit of 4.5km, the racers embark on a criterium around the Adelaide City Council.



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