The fact that the TdU is about to host the 20th edition and consistently goes from strength to strength and continues to build and cement it’s reputation, highlights the enormous efforts of many behind the scenes as well as the showing off some of the great cycling routes and weather that Adelaide has to offer. Having the reigning World Champion, Peter Sagan again, other world class riders eager get some valuable World Tour points and great racing in their legs and enjoy some great weather, a proper world class Santos Women’s TdU, it’s a great start to 2018. Bring it on !!
Santos Women’s Tour Down Under
One of the great differences with the Tour Down Under is that there is a fully fledged Women’s 4 day stage race that is part of the overall Tour Down Under festival. Stage 1 is on the Thursday before the Peoples Choice Classic and is a 115.7km challenging loop starting and finishing in Gumeracha but with several climbs including the interestingly name Cyanide Hill ! There are then another two challenging stages through the hills and plains of Adelaide, culminating in a criterium style 4th stage in the city ahead of the men’s race later in the evening.
Nettie Edmondson of Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling takes the opening stage of the 2018 Tour
Photo © Kirsty Baxter
ASO take note. That’s how you show proper support for professional women’s cycling. A proper multi stage race linked with the main race. Although, I have to wonder why it can’t be more integrated with the men’s race, but still.
The field is comprised of 17 teams each having 6 riders. The field has some great international and local talent including the likes of Amanda Spratt (Mitchelton-Scott and 2017 WTDU winner), Annette Edmonson and Amy Cure (Wiggle High5 Pro Cycling), Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance Pro Cycling), current Australian Road Race Champion Shannon Malseed (Team Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank), and Rebecca Wiasak (Holden Team Gusto Racing) just to name a few current and past national and World Champions.
The only gripe that I have is that the WTDU isn’t part of the great ‘tracker’ app that the TDU has. Maybe next year.
1st blood for the Aussies, with Annette Edmonson from Wiggle High5 taking the first stage in a bunch sprint from Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance Pro Cycling) with Lauretta Hanson (UniSA-Australia) rounding out the podium.
Bupa Challenge Tour (Stage 4)
This years route is one of the more challenging routes in the history of the Community Challenge stages, as the amount of climbing will nudge 2,200m of total ascent over the 137.4km route (9.2km of neutral section, with 128.2km from race ‘start to finish’ in Uraidla) – the route is almost constant gradual climb up through the hills from Adelaide to Mt Pleasant past Kangaroo Creek Dam, then plenty of up and down again through Lobethal and Lenswood, before a reasonably long descent back down to the plains, before the climb of Norton Summit (kicks in after 115km in the legs), with the cherry being the pinches in Woods Hill Road and the woops of Tregarthen Rd with a final fast descent into Uraidla. It promises to be a great ride with some great scenery along the way.
Grab a bite at Uraidla
Those that have done the training and pace themselves well will be rewarded with a great day out amongst some of the best scenery the Adelaide Hills has to offer. As part of the ‘training’ for this ride, I’d done a few rides along the route and enjoyed some beautiful and quiet country rods, with often only the occasional herd of cattle to stare at me as I pass.
Whilst there are bigger crowds that participate in other sportives and similar events overseas, the mood of the riders and the scenery sets a tone that I think only the routes through the European Alps can better. The crowds of over 5,000 riders and the huge throng of roadside fans and well wishers (as well as all of the volunteers at the food, drink and support stations) make the event a brilliant ride. The current forecast is for 31 degrees and sunny. Sounds great!
When the professional peloton rolls through several hours later, the crowds lining Norton Summit may not rival those at Willunga Hill, but I suspect that given the proximity to the finish and with the Queen stage the next day, the racing up Norton Summit will be more than fierce.
Tour Village Creation
It starts rather anonymously just after New Years Day. Just as Hot Cross Buns start showing up in the supermarket and jangly musak at stores herald the arrival of Christmas, the delivery of the first parts of the main marquee signal the start of the construction of the Tour Village. The pace gradually pics up in the following two weeks and gradually the construction frenzy increases to the point where the central road is blocked off and the construction spreads the length of Victoria Square.
Riders have been gradually arriving and acclimatising to the great weather, company display stands begin to be erected and filled with merchandise, more riders arrive (both professional and amateurs waiting to be part of a team’s training ride or just glimpse the stars of their favourite sport.
Then finally, it’s time to open the doors to the public and let them in. The stands range from the usual TDU merchandise, various clothing, nutrition and tyre suppliers, to the some of the larger bike brands that have displays to promote their latest models (with some being debuted at the TDU) to some that have fleets of bikes to ride to tempt you to buy just one more bike.
Part of the huge change in recent years are the associated events that are part of the TDU such as after stage parties and gatherings where you can do a ‘meet & greet’ with some of the past & present stars, to hosted group rides as part of each stage such the Chateau Down Under rides as organised by Black Sheep clothing and Specialized.