Team Sky will line up with a ‘young and exciting’ squad as the 2018 season gets under way at the Tour Down Under.
Neo-pros Kristoffer Halvorsen and Chris Lawless make their first appearances as Team Sky riders alongside Egan Bernal, who will target the general classification across the six-day WorldTour event (January 16-21).
Halvorsen will have strong leadout support from Brits Jon Dibben and Owain Doull, with the seven-man squad completed by Salvatore Puccio and Lukasz Wisniowski.
The racing takes place on the roads around Adelaide, with the action kicking off with the now traditional pre-race People’s Choice Classic criterium (January 14).
On the lineup, Team Sky Sport Director Brett Lancaster explained: “It’s a really young and exciting team and we’re keen to see how these guys develop.
“We’ll be gunning to try and take a stage win. We’ve got Kristoffer as our lead sprinter. His form is a bit unknown coming straight from Norway and stepping off the plane into temperatures of close to 40 degrees.
“Puccio is our road captain and the most experienced rider in the team. He’s been pro since 2012 but he’s only 28 years old, which tells you how young the team is.
“Egan has already raced in a lot of big races. He’s no longer a neo-pro but he’s very young still. It’s going to be a really good chance to see where he is at, especially against the Australian riders who are in a home race and adapted already. We’ll see what happens come Willunga Hill and we’ll look to put him in a good position.
“It’s Willunga again where the race should be decided. Stage four has a good climb too but it’s similar to what we’ve seen in recent years. That Willunga day will be interesting for sure.”
On the challenge ahead Kristoffer Halvorsen added: “I’ve never been in Australia before so I think it will be really nice. The weather is really good and the stages are not too long, so it suits me well as a first ever World Tour race. Hopefully it will be really good.”
Fellow neo-pro Chris Lawless is understandably itching to get the race under way: “I’m really looking forward to starting the season at the Tour Down Under. Going over there with a young team should be pretty fun. It should be good seeing how we all bounce off each other and I’m sure we’ll all be really enthusiastic to get up there and get stuck in.”