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Tour Down Under

Intermarché-Wanty starts the season with three races in Australia

This Sunday 7th of January, the delegation of Intermarché-Wanty arrived in Adelaide, in the south of Australia, for the first races of the 2024 road season. In a period of two weeks, the Walloon World Team will participate in three events on the continent Oceania: the Tour Down Under, the Surf Coast Classic and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.

In 2023, Intermarché-Wanty was in the mix for the victory every day in the Tour Down Under (2.UWT), with multiple top five finishes and a top ten in the final classification. This year, the event from 16th to 21st of January is divided in six stages and doesn’t start with a prologue, in contrary to the previous edition. The profile of the first four days alternates chances for sprinters and punchers, before an explosive closing weekend on the slopes of Willunga Hill (Saturday) and Mount Lofty (Sunday).

But before starting the World Tour season, the selection directed by Steven De Neef will race for the first time in the new kit of Verge Sport in the Down Under Classic, a criterium through the streets of Adelaide on 13th of January. 

On Thursday 25th of January, or four days after the Tour Down Under, Intermarché-Wanty will participate for the first time to the Surf Coast Classic (1.1), a race which was organised a first time in 2020 in the state of Victoria. After a 10 kilometer climb from the start in Lorque, the parcours towards Torquay is favourable for sprinters. 

The Australian campaign will be concluded on Sunday 28th of January with the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (1.UWT). Last year, Hugo Page achieved his first World Tour podium by finishing second in a group sprint with 35 riders, in which also Dion Smith (7th) was present.

The main obstacles during this classic of 176 kilometer around Geelong are the open roads in the beginning of the race and the technical urbain circuit of 17 kilometer with Challambra climb (900m at 8.9%) which has to be covered four times in the final.

The seven riders who will represent Intermarché-Wanty are Lilian Calmejane, Biniam Girmay, Madis Mihkels, Tom Paquot, Simone Petilli, Dion Smith and Georg Zimmermann.

"The excellent results we achieved twelve months ago in our first participation to the Australian races tasted like more. Remembering last year's great season start, we composed a solid and balanced line up for these 2024 opening races back in October. With Lilian Calmejane, Dion Smith and Georg Zimmermann we have several cards to play for the general classification and the difficult finals. Biniam Girmay and Madis Mihkels are our leaders for the sprint, the courses suit them very well. These men can rely on two exemplary teammates on all terrains: Tom Paquot and Simone Petilli. Our plan is to offer these seven riders a long training block after these races, on altitude for some of them, in order to prepare well for the classics on European soil." "For their preparation, the majority of our selection finished their 2023 road season relatively early. All followed a specific training programme during our team training camp in December, including individual training sessions behind the scooter for example. Our team travelled to Adelaide earlier than most of the other teams, in order to have enough time for acclimatisation, acquiring training rhythm and course recons. I expect this transition to go smoothly, especially for Biniam Girmay and Dion Smith who have been preparing these races in their home country the past three weeks. Dion comes from New-Zealand and benefits from a short trip. Biniam's advantage is the similar weather circumstances in Eritrea compared to what we can expect in Australia. I'm really looking forward to this first appointment with a group of ambitious riders, while we unite the rest of the team in Spain to finalise our preparation for the first races on European soil."


General Classification


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