Israel – Premier Tech is looking to hit the ground running at the Santos Tour Down Under, lining up with a versatile team to take on the WorldTour season opener.

The action kicks off with the Down Under Classic criterium as a warmup on Saturday 13 January before the six-stage race gets underway the following Tuesday, which Sports Director Sam Bewley expects will be one of the toughest editions.

We are looking forward to being back at Tour Down Under this year,” says Bewley. “Stuart O’Grady and the TDU team have done a great job creating this year’s route. It’s a dynamic race this year and the inclusion of Willunga Hill again sets up what could potentially be the most decisive final weekend we have seen in recent years with consecutive summit finishes. The Tour Down Under is an important race for us and we intend to be right in the thick of things to start our season on the right track.”

Simon Clarke brings a wealth of TDU experience to the team, with IPT’s road captain set to line up for his 13th participation, and will be joined by fellow Australian Nick Schultz, Canadians Derek Gee and Guillaume Boivin, Welshman Stevie Williams, and New Zealanders Corbin Strong and George Bennett, who is set to make his IPT race debut.

The thing about the Tour Down Under is that even with more of a climbing emphasis in recent years, you need to be prepared for everything,” adds Bewley. “We are coming with depth and strength in the team which is going to give us multiple options throughout the week. Between Corbin Strong covering the sprints, George Bennett, Nick Schultz, and Stevie Williams as our climbers, and Simon Clarke, Derek Gee, and Guillaume Boivin providing key support on all terrain, I think we can race aggressively on all fronts.”

After impressing with his sprinting prowess in his first Tour Down Under in 2023, before a crash derailed his General Classification ambitions, Strong is hoping to benefit from his off-season block in New Zealand.

It has been great to prepare for Tour Down Under in the New Zealand summer, training with my brother and being motor paced by dad like when I was a junior,” says strong. “I loved the Aussie block last year and I am really motivated to come back this year and chase some results with a strong IPT squad.”

Photo: Australian rider Nick Schultz will made his belated Tour Down Under debut this month

Scrolling through the start list and a surprising statistic stands out in that Schultz, despite going into his eighth year as a pro, is set to make his Tour Down Under debut.

It feels weird to only just be making my Tour Down Under debut now,” explains Schultz. “It has always been a race that I’ve loved the look of, but it never quite fit in with my movements or race program to be on the start line. Every rider speaks so highly of the race and atmosphere, so I can’t wait to see what it’s all about.”

When it comes to my expectations at the race, I think we have a super strong team lining up where we can all be protagonists. I’d personally like to hit the ground running and have some good form helping the boys or chasing some opportunities myself. All in all, really looking forward to getting started!

IPT at the Tour Down Under

Rider roster: George Bennett (NZL), Guillaume Boivin (CAN), Simon Clarke (AUS), Derek Gee (CAN), Nick Schultz (AUS), Corbin Strong (NZL), Stevie Williams (GBR)

Sports Director: Sam Bewley (NZL), Daryl Impey (RSA)