So here we are, the 2020 season: S T A R T!

The moment has come. The celebrations about stepping up to the WorldTour? Over. Team presentation?  Done. Training camp? Check. 6 weeks of intensive training: in the bag.

For our chosen seven in Adelaide, the hard part (most of them will also add “fun”) will start tomorrow at 11 AM (1:30 AM Europe, 2:30 Israel) in a town called Tanunda. Out there, in Australia, a 30 km course, run five times, will await the WorldTour peloton to open the 2020 season.

So, let’s talk business. Or rather RACING. Let’s talk about the TOUR DOWN UNDER.

Tour Down Under Australia Israel Start Up Nation
Santos Tour Down Under 2020 – Training 2nd Day – Adelaide – 16/01/2020 – Omer Goldstein (ISR – Israel Start-Up Nation) – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2020

On the menu #1: 6 stages, not extra-long (around the 150km mark), but all intensive, far more then you expect this early in the season. “Forget about that,” said our Belgian Sports Director Erick Van Lancker. “From now on, there are no more easy races. Everybody here is in great shape. Maybe not their top 100 percent, but certainly good enough”.

On the Menu #2: The Tour is a mixed bag of pure bunch sprint days (stage 1 (tomorrow), stage 4 and probably 5), a selective sprinters second stage, and two other stages with some short and nasty climbs that will suit the GC-contenders. “I am pretty sure that the GC will be decided on the last stage, and its last climb,” said Van Lancker. It’s called Old Willunga Hill (3km at 7.5 percent) that will be climbed twice.

Top Dogs: many teams brought quality squads, but Mitchelton Scott, Team Ineos, and Trek are the favorites. Each has its GC contender. The Australian team has two of them, Daryl Impey and Simon Yates. Ritchie Porte and Rohan Dennis will complete the big four list.

WE OFFER: Ben Hermans. After a great season, Ben is ready to contend. “I am in pretty good shape,” said Ben. “So top-10 and maybe top-5 will be my goal”. He has James Piccoli at his side now, and Ben, he is clearly happy about that.

Top Dogs 2: The Big sprinters. Caleb Ewan, Sam Bennett, and Elia Viviani.

WE OFFER:  Andre Greipel. Andre is not a guy to brag about numbers and ability, although his teammates adore him. “He is the first BIG sprinter I have been with,” says Hermans. “I tried, but cannot be on his wheel,” he laughed. “I truly believe he can win. We all do.”

Tour Down Under Australia Israel Start Up Nation
Santos Tour Down Under 2020 – Training 2nd Day – Adelaide – 16/01/2020 – Israel Start-Up Nation – photo Dario Belingheri/BettiniPhoto©2020

DS Van Lancker agrees: “He can certainly challenge the win in at least two stages here. This our clear goal here: To try to win a stage with André and get a top-5 with Ben”.

Our first stage plan: To set up Greipel for the chance to win, with our sprint train to help him: Alex Dowsett, G Boivin, and Rick Zabel. Israeli Omer Goldstein will be expected to help chase down a potential breakaway. “I will do what’s needed,” says the Israeli, who hopes to prove himself worthy for the team.


LAST words:

Greipel: “We want to win the sprint with me. We have a strong lead-out, and I fully trust the guys to deliver it”.


The Chosen Seven:

Andre Greipel

Rick Zabel

Alex Dowsett

Guillaume Boivin

Omer Goldstein

Ben Hermans

James Piccoli