• Kristoffer Halvorsen (L) and Łukasz Wiśniowski lining up for the 2018 People’s Choice Classic criterium in Adelaide, Australia (Getty)Source: Getty
Team Sky has benched its big hitters to blood bold new signings at the Tour Down Under this year.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
15 Jan 2018 - 8:34 AM  UPDATED 15 Jan 2018 - 9:36 AM

Geraint Thomas, Ian Stannard and Luke Rowe have been regular features at the first WorldTour race of the season but are all absent in what represents a change of tact for the British powerhouse at the 2018 edition.

Sky acquired the crème de la crème of the under-23 crop during the transfer season and will introduce some of those names to WorldTour competition in Adelaide, Australia from Tuesday.

“I quite like bringing the young lads down here because you get plenty of work, routine and regular discipline into them,” esteemed coach Rod Ellingworth said.

“There are two goals for the development riders, which is one, deal with long-haul flights and two, work in the heat.

“Overall from our trip to Australia, if you can achieve those things and they learn then you’re ticking the boxes.”

The Tour Down Under isn’t an easy introductory race, nor was the prelude People’s Choice Classic criterium on Sunday for Norwegian rookie pro Kristoffer Halvorsen.

The 2016 under-23 road race world champion injured his right wrist when he crashed in the closing metres of the 50.6km race, which Peter Sagan (Bora-hansgrohe) won, and was taken to hospital for scans.

Sky had been riding for the burgeoning sprinter, hoping for opportunities through the six-stage race, but the team later confirmed the worst.

"Unfortunately, it's been confirmed he has fractured a bone in his right hand, so he won't be able to race in the Tour Down Under," team doctor Richard Usher said.

"The next step will be to consult with the specialists and ensure we manage the injury properly."

Sky will continue to adopt an open over pre-determined approach to the event with Salvatore Puccio, Lukasz Wisniowski, Egan Bernal, Jonathan Dibben, Chris Lawless as well as Owain Doull all due to start. 

Lawless finished sixth, a strong position on debut.

“It’s been a really good week, they’ve worked pretty hard,” Ellingworth said.