Sprinters to clash at Tour Down Under

Roger Vaughan
AAP

Australia's Caleb Ewan will go head-to-head with Andre Greipel in Adelaide on Sunday.

Caleb Ewan is the pocket rocket who presents a giant problem for Andre Greipel at the Tour Down Under.

Greipel joked about Ewan's small stature and his unusual sprinting style on Saturday, but the two cycling stars will be fierce rivals through the next week.

Along with Elia Viviani and possibly world champion Peter Sagan, they are the riders to watch on Sunday evening in the People's Choice Classic.

The twilight street race traditionally opens the Tour Down Under week, giving the international riders a hitout before Tuesday's opening stage.

Greipel was asked what he thinks of Ewan, the 23-year-old who won four Tour Down Under stages last year and is confirmed for his Tour de France debut in July.

"My impression is I have no slipstream behind him - that makes it difficult," Greipel deadpanned.

Not only is Ewan much shorter than the German, but when he sprints he has an unusually low position on the bike.

Ewan noted Greipel's comment, replying "I'm glad" on Twitter.

The Australian has had a good start to the year, winning his third-straight national title in the criterium and also finishing fourth last Sunday in the championships road race.

Greipel is back at the Tour Down Under after a three-year absence.

He is a two-time Tour champion has won a record 16 stages at the Adelaide race.

The 20th Tour Down Under will feature a top-quality selection of sprinters after several years where all-rounders have dominated the event.

While defending champion Richie Porte is again an overall favourite, the fast men will be key factors in this edition.

Sagan is the highest-profile international in the field, but he will have modest personal goals.

He is using the trip as a solid start to his season and will work for Bora-Handsgrohe teammates, Australian Jay McCarthy and Sam Bennett.

As McCarthy notes, a rider could not wish for a better domestique.

"It's a pleasure for me to hear I'm the best leadout man," Sagan joked.

"For sure, we're here for Jay and also Sam Bennett.

"We will see what we can do in the race."

But Sagan's immense talent means he will keep rival teams nervous, whatever his January race condition.