Grand tour champions to race at Santos Tour Down Under
The Santos Tour Down Under has confirmed that Grand Tour winners Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Simon Yates will all be at the start line when international cycling returns to the streets of South Australia in January.
This will bring the number of Grand Tour winners taking part in in the 2023 race to four, after Australian Giro d’Italia champion Jai Hindley was announced last week.
Four-time Tour de France and two-time Vuelta a España winner Froome will return to the Santos Tour Down Under for the first time since 2010 as his Israel – Premier Tech team begins its fight back to UCI WorldTour status.
Froome will be joined by a strong team which includes 2018 and 2019 Santos Tour Down Under winner Daryl Impey and 2022 Tour de France stage five winner, Simon Clarke.
Fellow Tour de France champion Thomas is set to lead a young INEOS Grenadiers line-up, with Australian Luke Plapp and British brothers Ethan and Leo Hayter among the team heading to Adelaide.
Thomas will enter the new season full of confidence, following a third-place finish at this year’s Tour de France as well as winning the Tour de Suisse.
Yates will have high hopes for the 2023 Santos Tour Down Under after a Stage 2 crash ended his ambitions in 2020.
The 2018 Vuelta a España champion from GreenEDGE Cycling will be joined by a largely Australian line-up including Luke Durbridge who won the Santos Festival of Cycling in 2021.
Santos Tour Down Under race director Stuart O’Grady said having Grand Tour winners travel to South Australia and take part in the Santos Tour Down Under is the ultimate recognition the event could wish for.
“It proves the importance of what the TDU consistently delivers, in the means of great race preparation for the cycling season ahead,” O’Grady said.
“Chris Froome is an international sporting super star and the only rider still competing that has won four Tour de France.
“The fact that he sees Adelaide as an important step in rejuvenating his illustrious career after his almost career ending crash, is heart-warming not only as a race organiser, but also as a fan.
“Then you have Geraint Thomas, riding into his 19th season as a Pro, and Simon Yates who is one the world’s best climbers who should be right up there in contention on this course.
“Riders like this are a huge drawcard for the cycling fans and the next generation watching on, and we should treasure each time we get the opportunity to witness these legends on our shores.”
Froome is excited to be returning to the Santos Tour Down Under for only the second time in his career.
“The race has changed a lot since I was there in 2010, getting bigger and better each year, to now be one of the most important races on the cycling calendar,” Froome said.
“I know the Aussie fans are some of the best in the world so I can’t wait to be back on their home soil and have them cheer us on.
“We have a strong team and I think we can hit the ground running with some great results at the Santos Tour Down Under.”
Thomas said his team were prepared to take on the challenging conditions of the event.
“I can’t wait to get down there in the heat of Adelaide, which has some great roads for training, and I’m looking forward to starting my year there,” Thomas said.
“The INEOS Grenadiers have got a strong line-up; a lot of good young guys and a local hero in ‘Plappy’ as well, so we’ll look to race aggressively and try get as much as we can out of it.
“I’m sure the atmosphere is going to be great as well, especially after not having had the race there for a couple of years now, so I can’t wait to soak up the Australian atmosphere again.”
Yates said Adelaide is the perfect place to start 2023.
"I'm really happy to start my season right at the Santos Tour Down Under,” Yates said.
“It will be only my second time participating but it is a special race for me and especially for our whole team.
“I saw that this year's route features the Mount Lofty climb for the first time, which looks really challenging.”
The Santos Tour Down Under is taking place in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 13-22 January 2023.
Remaining rider announcements will be made in the coming weeks.
Please visit www.tourdownunder.com.au for more information.