Targeting stage wins at the Tour Down Under 2019


The official start of the 2019 cycling season has arrived! From 15 to 20 January, the Tour Down Under will take place. The Australian stage race means the first official event for some new Lotto Soudal riders such as Adam Blythe, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Roger Kluge and Caleb Ewan. The 24-year-old sprinter is looking forward to his race on home grounds and targets a stage win. The sports director of Lotto Soudal at the Tour Down Under is Mario Aerts. He previews the course and explains the main goal of Lotto Soudal during the first WorldTour race of the season.

 Caleb Ewan: “It certainly is a nice feeling to be once again at the start of the Tour Down Under, which is a great event with lots of enthusiastic fans. It is one of my favourite races to be at. I am especially looking forward to starting the race with my new teammates. I had Adam Hansen with me at the Nationals but that’s completely different to racing with a full team. I got a couple of guys who came with me from my previous team so it should work out a little bit easier. The new lead-out train is something that could succeed straightaway or might take a couple of races. We will see once the race starts.”

 “Obviously, we are going for a few stage wins but at least one. It won’t be a great result if I haven’t won a stage by the end of the race. There are definitely three stages suited for a sprint finish, maybe four. The other three stages will probably be too hard for the sprinters but that obviously depends on how the race unfolds. The main guys I’ll be looking out for are Peter Sagan and Elia Viviani, who are both quick and strong riders. Moreover, there is a really strong sprint field here so there may be some other riders to keep an eye on as well.”

There are definitely three stages suited for a sprint finish, maybe four.

Mario Aerts: “We’ve been staying here since a week before the start of the Tour Down Under. The first three days were all about some really easy training rides and trying to get enough sleep. Later on, we could increase both the intensity and length of the training rides. We also had the time to recon almost all of the stages, except for the one that includes the ascent of Willunga Hill. But we saw at least the finales of all the other stages. This makes things a lot easier once the race takes off. I expect three sprint stages, two stages suited to breakaway riders or where the GC can already take shape and then there is the stage to Willunga Hill, which will decide who wins the Tour Down Under.”

 “We are here with a really diverse line-up, it’s a very international mix of riders but there is one clear leader. Our main goal during the Tour Down Under is to take a stage win with Caleb Ewan, the whole team is in fact here to support him in getting that win. The GC is more of a side topic but if some guys are feeling good, they will get a free role.”

Stage schedule

Stage 1  Tuesday 15 January: North Adelaide - Port Adelaide (132.4 km)

Stage 2  Wednesday 16 January: Norwood - Angaston (149 km)

Stage 3  Thursday 17 January: Lobethal - Uraidla (146.2 km)

Stage 4  Friday 18 January: Unley - Campbelltown (129.2 km)

Stage 5  Saturday 19 January: Glenelg - Strathalbyn (149.5 km)

Stage 6  Sunday 20 January: McLaren Vale - Willunga Hill (151.5 km)

Line-up Lotto Soudal: Adam Blythe, Thomas De Gendt, Caleb Ewan, Carl Fredrik Hagen, Adam Hansen, Roger Kluge and Tomasz Marczyński.

Sports director: Mario Aerts.