The BMC Racing Team will take one of the most successful Santos Tour Down Under line-ups in memory into the 20th edition of the race in January, with three general classification winners headlining its roster.

Above: Richie Porte climbs to the top of Willunga Hill on his way to securing the general classification in the 2017 Santos Tour Down Under [pic: Ian Routledge]

Reigning ochre jersey winner Richie Porte, four-time winner Simon Gerrans and 2015 champion and Adelaide-born Rohan Dennis will lead BMC in January, giving the team an excellent prospect of adding a third general classification in four years to the team’s honour roll.

Between them, the trio hold the last four race wins at the UCI WorldTour-opening event.

While Porte and Dennis are established riders at BMC, Gerrans switched over to the US-registered team after spending the last six years at Orica-Scott.

They will be joined by South Australian Miles Scotson – the current Australian road race champion – as well as New Zealander Patrick Bevin, plus Swiss riders Tom Bohli and Danilo Wyss.

For Porte, it will make a significant moment in the race veteran’s career, marking his comeback from a sickening 70km/h crash during stage nine of this year’s Tour de France where he fractured his collarbone and pelvis.

Porte can draw confidence from his strong knowledge of the event. Not only is he the reigning general classification winner, but the 32-year-old also owns the notorious penultimate stage at Willunga Hill – a test he has won every year since 2014.

“I’m excited to go back to the Santos Tour Down Under in 2018 and try to defend the ochre jersey,” Porte said.

“After mostly missing the last part of the 2017 season, it will be good to get 2018 underway, especially at the Santos Tour Down Under which is one of my favorite races of the calendar.”

However the talent pool in his team runs deep, no less in the form of record four-time TDU winner Simon Gerrans, who will compete in his first WorldTour race for BMC in Adelaide.

“We’re going to have a really formidable line-up, and I think there will be a lot of attention on us,” Gerrans said.

“I have always made a point of trying to start my seasons in good shape, and for my entire career this race has always been on the calendar, so it has worked out really nicely for me that I have been able to target a race on Australian soil at the beginning of the season.”

Rohan Dennis celebrates in the ochre jersey in 2015 [pic: John Veage]

Rounding out BMC’s suite of ochre jersey winners is Rohan Dennis, the 27-year-old who burst onto the scene with the UniSA-Australia national team in 2012’s race, and then backed it up with a bumper 2015 display that netted the general classification in Adelaide before taking out the opening time trial in the Tour de France that year.

“I do enjoy going back to Adelaide, my hometown, for the Santos Tour Down Under,” Dennis said.

“I get to see my family and they get to see me race, but that always adds pressure.

“It’s definitely a full-on week for me as I don’t go back often, but we know how to manage it.

“The racing itself is really exciting – it’s short, it’s fast, and there aren’t any 200km transfer stages.

“It’s a great race, and the crowds treat us as if we’re at a big European UCI WorldTour race.”

Race director Mike Turtur said the Australian flavour in the line-up would be popular among road side fans, and expects the return of the tour’s defending champion to add another layer of interest to an event already boasting the likes of triple UCI World Road Race champion Peter Sagan and dual Tour Down Under winner André Greipel.

“We can’t wait to see Richie Porte return to form at TDU’s reigning champion, it is always an honour for any race to have the previous winner return to defend their title,” Turtur said.

“Seeing the dynamic with Simon Gerrans who is a four time race winner make his debut with BMC Racing Team riding alongside Porte will add something really special to the race.

“We know the fans will cheer just that little bit louder for the Aussie flavour in the BMC Racing Team. There is nothing better for a rider than racing in front of their home crowd and this will be even more special for South Aussie locals, Rohan Dennis and Miles Scotson.”

BMC Racing Team is the first to announce its roster for the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under, with more expected to follow in the weeks leading up to Christmas and the New Year.

The 2018 Santos Tour Down Under will be held from Saturday 13 to Sunday 21 January 2018.

BMC Racing Team roster

  • Richie Porte (Australia)
  • Simon Gerrans (Australia)
  • Rohan Dennis (Australia)
  • Miles Scotson (Australia)
  • Patrick Bevin (New Zealand)
  • Tom Bohli (Switzerland)
  • Danilo Wyss (Switerland)