The 2017 UCI cycling season kicked off in January with the Tour Down Under (TDU). Two Australian riders finished on top. BMC’s Richie Porte took home the General Classification by winning the two hill stages, and the young Caleb Ewan of Team Orica-Scott claimed the sprinters jersey, blowing away the competition by winning all four sprint stages.
That’s an impressive achievement for the Australians, but the season is only getting started. Can they translate that success into more palmares-building results? Let’s take a look ahead at the rest of the 2017 season.
Post-TDU Cycling Props
Odds Richie Porte places in the top-3 of a Grand Tour: 4/1
Richie Porte may have comfortably won the Tour Down Under, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into Grand Tour success. The TDU is only a week long, with no real mountain stages or difficult terrain. Porte is notorious for cracking under the pressure of the three-week Grand Tours and he’s never seemed on par with the main contenders.
Last year, Porte managed to finish fifth in the Tour de France, his best Grand Tour result to date. His ride was actually more impressive than his fifth-place finish indicates at first glance. He lost nearly two minutes to the pack on Stage 2 due to a mechanical problem.
The 31-year-old Tasmanian is targeting the Tour against this year. With the full backing of Team BMC, he may just break onto the podium.
O/U on Grand Tour stage wins for Caleb Ewan: 0.5
Caleb Ewan won every sprint stage available to him at the Tour Down Under, including the pre-race People’s Choice criterium. He out-sprinted World Champion Peter Sagan on every occasion and won the Sprinters’ Classification by a wide margin.
The Grand Tours will be a different story, though. To start with, Orica will likely only have Ewan ride in one of the trio. Secondly, the sprint stages in the Grand Tours are longer and the competition will be a lot fiercer. Sagan will be in peak form, and Ewan will also have to contend with the likes of Mark Cavendish, Marcel Kittel, and Andre Greipel. He’ll need to keep improving and be even better than at the TDU in order to win a stage.
Odds that an Orica-Scott rider places in the top-3 of a Grand Tour: 3/7
Australian team Orica-Scott will have three big names in the General Classification this year. Their biggest gun is Esteban Chaves, who finished second in the Giro d’Italia last year and third in the Vuelta a España. He came in second to Porte at the Tour Down Under, but the young Colombian is just getting warmed up.
They also have the Yates brothers, Adam and Simon. Adam finished fourth in the Tour de France last year without the help of his brother, who was serving a ban for “non intentional doping”. They are both extremely gifted riders in their own right, and together, they could be the next Andy and Frank Schleck.
With these three riders, Orica-Scott will be a team to be reckoned with at the Grand Tours.
O/U on Peter Sagan’s 2nd-place finishes in 2017: 13
It feels like the only thing Peter Sagan does more than win is finish second. The “saganth place” jokes are rolling in early this year after the World Champion came in second three times at the Tour Down Under. There’s no reason to expect fewer second-place finishes from the champ this year. With a huge season ahead of him, expect plenty of wins but also a great deal of second places.
Photo credit: “Tour Down Under: War Memorial Drive 2” by cobber_cpd, CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.