"You're not going to win GC [general classification] there, but you can lose it": Cadel Evans. Photo: Getty Images
Cadel Evans expects Mengler's Hill to mangle many cyclists' hopes in stage one of the Tour Down Under.
The Australian cycling legend will be on guard during the 135-kilometre opening stage on Tuesday in the Barossa, saying it could be pivotal for the overall result. The looped course from Nuriootpa to Angaston features one climb of the steep Mengler's Hill at 123.3 kilometres.
Having Mengler's so late in the stage means anyone dropped there will have little time to catch up.
Every year, the Adelaide tour comes down to the second-last stage and its famed Willunga Hill climb, but Evans said the opening day's racing would also be pivotal. ''You're not going to win GC [general classification] there, but you can lose it,'' Evans said. ''That's going to make it really selective right from the first stage. So that will make it very different and a little bit of nervous racing right from the start.''
Evans (BMC), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Richie Porte (Sky) are the three race favourites in a dream scenario for the event after their storming rides last Sunday at the Australian road championships.
Gerrans won the elite men's road race, with Evans second and Porte third to form a world-class podium.
Evans is racing the Tour Down Under for the first time since 2010 thanks to a different race schedule.
The 36-year-old will miss the Tour de France for the first time since 2005 and focus his season on the Giro d'Italia.
A broken bone in his shoulder will force French star Thomas Voeckler to fly out of Adelaide the day after he arrived. The Tour de France star was training on Wednesday near Glenelg when he hit a stationary car and crashed. There were media reports he had suffered a broken clavicle and will return to France on Thursday for further treatment. Voeckler was one of the big international riders in Adelaide.
Meanwhile, the composite UniSA team have finalised their line-up for the January 19-26 tour. As expected, national under-23 champion Caleb Ewan will lead the young squad.