Only a few weeks to the start of the Tour Down Under, and the excitement is building, Christmas for Australian cyclists doesn't come on December 25th but on January 17th.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

So here we are, only a few weeks to the start of the Tour Down Under,
and the excitement is building, Christmas for Australian cyclists
doesn't arrive on December 25th but on January 17th.

Lineups are
being announced by the race orgainsers on a daily basis and travel plans
have been finalised by the now hundreds of thousands of fans who
make the trek to Adelaide.

Here at SBS, our planning is well
underway for the 2010 Tour Down Under, with broadcast coverage now
extended to the Classic and two live stages and additional on demand
coverage right here on Cycling Central.

To say that interest and
anticipation is high everywhere is an understatement, the fans are
excited and so are all the usually cynical cycling journalists.

Already
though I've picked a race winner. Yeah, I know it's early days and all
the rosters haven't been finalised but sometimes you just have to go out
on a limb and make the call.

That the Tour Down Under is seen a
sprinters race is no surprise given its history, and it's from those
ranks that we will again see a winner.

Riders like defending
champion Allan Davis, his predecessor Andre Greipel, the two Robbies,
Hunter and McEwen, Rabobank's Graeme Brown and Sky's Chris Sutton.

And
lets not forget a young turk like Jack Bobridge whose balance of talent
and aggression might surprise the more experienced fast men.

But
for me the race winner will come from the ranks of one of the two new
powerhouse teams in the peloton - the Lance Armstrong led Radio Shack
and it's big sprinter Gert Steegmans.

For all of their obvious
grand tour pedigree, Radio Shack has also assembled a team that can
contest races where speed in the final few hundred meters matter.

They
will contest a full season and Steegmans will be a key card to play in
the classics and races like the Tour Down Under.

Last seen by
most cycling fans winning the final Champs Elysee stage of the 2008 Tour
de France, Steegmans looks set to launch himself right back into every
one's consciousness after a quiet 2009 where he was beset by some
interesting and controversial contractual issues.

However, with
this transfer to the 'TheShack' and with the guidance of men like
Armstrong and Bruyneel, we can expect to see a more settled Steegmans
ready to confirm his talent not just with wins but consistent
performances.

The Belgian's palmares prior to 2009 was an
excellent demonstration of his skill set, where he made a name for
himself leading out Robbie McEwen at Lotto, and where his wins were
marked by real power.

Steegmans is a also a rider who should have no
problems with Willunga Hill, something that is a perquisite for any rider
with aspirations to win a multi-day stage race.

Knowing their
style, Lance Armstrong and Radio Shack will arrive at the Tour Down Under
looking to make an immediate impact on the world stage and Steegmans is
the kind of rider to help them do just that.

So now that I've
gone out on a limb with this early call, who do you think will win the
Tour Down Under, and why?