Kurt-Asle Arvesen is relishing the opportunity to occupy the role of Sports Director at the upcoming Tour Down Under.
The Norwegian will be at the helm as Team Sky kick off their year in Adelaide with the six-day WorldTour event.
A happy hunting ground for the team as it carved out a place in the pro peloton, Arvesen is keen for Team Sky to continue the form that has brought three stage wins and three consecutive top-four finishes.
“It goes without saying that I’m looking forward to my first race as a DS,” said Arvesen.
“The team are looking really good heading into the race. They’ve been training hard for a long time and the results we’ve seen have been really promising. But now it’s the race and as always it’s a completely different scenario. We know full well there are a lot of other teams out there who have been training hard too.”
Chris Sutton and Mathew Hayman have taken advantage of the Australian summer to train during the off-season, while the rest of the Tour Down Under squad – Edvald Boasson Hagen, Bernhard Eisel, Luke Rowe and Ian Stannard – have occupied the team’s set-up in Mallorca to fine-tune their form. Geraint Thomas has spent time in both countries in the lead-up to the race.
Despite the logistics involved, Arvesen is more than happy that everyone is firing on all cylinders ahead of Sunday’s opening criterium.
“The coaching group have been looking over everything with (Performance Manager) Rod [Ellingworth] and (Head of Performance Support) Tim [Kerrison]. The guys all look fit and ready to go. Tour Down Under is a race where everyone starts out and gets back into that race rhythm and hopefully we can improve further with racing kilometres.”
Despite the race marking an important early step for a group of riders looking ahead to the Classics, Arvesen explains that getting the season off to a good start has multiple benefits.
“The race is a building block but if we can get some results and WorldTour points here that would be great. For the team as defending WorldTour winners, and also for the convoy – as the amount of points dictates how far up the line your team car is in the WorldTour races. That’s especially important heading into the Classics.”
Turning the screw
A new addition to the event and a twist on previous editions, the introduction of a second tough climb on the second day of racing could shake things up according to the experienced Norwegian.
“The route is interesting,” he ponders. “We know all about the Willunga climb which we’ve seen before. Two times up that is always going to be a hard and selective stage. We also have a new stage on the second day up the Corkscrew climb. That will mix things up a bit with some hard stages and some sprints.
“I’m ready to go and the boys are ready too. Even Edvald and Luke who finished last year late in Beijing. They are looking forward to racing again already so that is a good sign.”
As for who to contend with, Arvesen adds: “GreenEDGE will be strong on home soil. They will be up for it and Andre Greipel is also strong in this race. As well as the other teams there’s also the heat to contend with. It should be an exciting race.”