Richie Porte's powerful BMC team boasts the last three Tour Down Under winners, but no rider has gone back-to-back in the event's 20-year history.
By
Cycling Central

Source:
AAP
15 Jan 2018 - 8:07 PM  UPDATED 15 Jan 2018 - 8:08 PM

Richie Porte wants to make history in the 20th year of the Tour Down Under as its first back-to-back champion.

While his powerful BMC team boasts the last three winners of the Adelaide tour, no rider has successfully defended his title since the race started in 1999.

Porte is the man to beat, despite this being his first stage race since the horrible crash last July that wiped out his bid to win the Tour de France.

Fellow BMC rider Rohan Dennis won in 2015 and Simon Gerrans, the Tour's only four-time winner, has joined the team after six years at Mitchelton-Scott.

While Gerrans's Tour Down Under credentials is impeccable, he will work for Porte from Tuesday in the six-day race.

"Simon and I were talking the other day - no one has gone back-to-back," Porte said. "Of course, it's a nice motivation.

"But it's easy to be motivated here for this race. It's one of the best races on the calendar."

As always, the overall winner will be confirmed on Saturday in the Queen Stage at Willunga and its summit finish.

Porte has won at Willunga for the last four years.

He was encouraged by his form earlier this month at the national road titles and then Sunday night's Classic street race.

"I had good sensations last night (and) we have a fantastically-strong team here as well," he said. "I am super-motivated."

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The three-time defending world road champion took out the People's Choice Classic on Sunday night in Adelaide.

The other Australian at BMC is Miles Scotson, who is in his second year as a pro rider.

"I can definitely learn a lot from these guys - I don't take in everything I hear, but the good points," he joked.

Cycling star Peter Sagan won Sunday's street race, showing he will be a big threat in the sprint finishes.

He will be prominent in Tuesday's opening stage, a 145km leg from Port Adelaide to Lyndoch in the Barossa.

Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), Andre Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) are the other top sprinters in the field.

Meanwhile, Porte has welcomed the addition of a supplements company as a team sponsor, saying it gives the cyclists peace of mind.

Australian-based Swisse will partner with BMC as cycling continues to struggle with the shadow of doping.

Most recently, four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome has come under investigation after a urine test showed an unusually high level of the asthma medication he takes.

"One of the biggest worries for a professional athlete is to take something and you don't know if it's tainted," Porte said. "It's nice to have a reputable brand."