Cycling giant Cadel Evans believes stage one of the Tour Down Under can make or break the overall standings.

The Santos Tour Down Under starts on the 21st January and includes six stages of dramatic racing around Australia, finishing in Adelaide where the cyclists will complete an 18 lap city circuit.

2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans goes into the event as one of the favourites alongside Simon Gerrans (Orica Greenedge) and Richie Porte (Team Sky).

Stage 1 is 135km and takes the riders up the steep Mengler's Hill, 12km from the end of the stage, leaving riders no time to catch up if they are dropped on the climb.

Evans thinks overall general classification places could be lost on this climb not just on the notorious Willunga Hill climb on stage five.

He told reporters: ''You're not going to win GC [general classification] there, but you can lose it.

''That's going to make it really selective right from the first stage. So that will make it very different and a little bit of nervous racing right from the start.''

This will be the first time the Australian has entered the event since 2010 because of different race schedules and is reportedly set to miss the Tour de France so he can focus on the Giro d'Italia instead. Evans hasn't missed the Tour since 2005.

The 36-year-old's general classification competitor French cyclist Thomas Voeckler will be out of contention of the Tour Down Under after breaking his collarbone on a training ride in Adelaide and will fly back to France for treatment.

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