HomeNews & Features2024 Tour Down Under - Beyond the Race

2024 Tour Down Under – Beyond the Race

The festival of cycling, hosted each year in January by Tourism South Australia, is a multifaceted event however the men’s and women’s Tour Down Under races are just one part of it. The surrounding events and activities bring increasing relevance to an even broader audience while conveniently keeping everything centred around the city of Adelaide.

Of course the men’s and women’s races are the main events and the glue that ties everything together. This is the first opportunity for international stars and teams to present themselves in the new season. The timing however overlaps with January training camps and the traditional pre-season training period. To make the trip feasible for the international teams to race, they are supported by the event organiser and event partners. Teams bolster their roster at the Tour Down Under with Australian (and New Zealand) riders and staff. The women’s Tour Down Under has three stages and the men’s have six, but other races such as the Down Under Classic criterium in Adelaide and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race in Victoria are additional opportunities to compete and to train.

The city of Adelaide is the hub and Victoria Square is the epicentre of The Tour Village. Riders and staff stay in the Hilton and nearby hotels. Each day the team mini-buses and an entourage of cars and motorbikes depart to the race start and return afterwards. The fixed geographic centre brings a number of benefits and many of the administration and spectator facilities are centralised.

Giant inflatable bike adelaide tour down under

Team Zone

One of the biggest highlights for cycling fans is the Team Zone; team workshops with public viewing. After each stage when the racing teams return to the city, most of the riders pass through the Team Zone tent while the mechanics clean and tune all of the bikes. Some riders will skip through and some will interact with fans. The mechanics have a tough job working under the glare of the inquisitive public (and not forgetting they have long days working during and after the race).

For Tech-focused cycling media, the cameras, phones and recording gear are on the ready in the Team Zone.

Tour Down Under Team Zone
Mechanic Bora Hansgrohe Team Zone

Bike Expo and Public Viewing

Next door to the Team Zone, the Bike Expo is a collection of indoor and outdoor exhibitors with bikes, gear and tech on display. In the absence of major bike expos in Australia, the Tour Down Under is, by default, the biggest event opportunity for cycling brands to reach their customers.

Space for exhibitors is limited though the convenient opening hours mean that spectators can go to the race and return to the city with plenty of time to visit the expo. Tyres, helmets, sunnies, parts and accessories with TDU discounts are popular sale items. Alongside the expo is a public viewing area. Many of the fans will ride or drive out for road-side viewing, though a handful will follow on the big screens. This area however is popular for special events such as panel discussions or Team presentations which draw larger audiences.

TDU village public viewings

The Tour Experience

Many of the spectators are lycra-ready and the of the Tour Down Under Experience involves cycling, riding out each day and finding a spot to watch the race pass. Tour operators provide supported rides and VIP packages with conveniences such as wine tasting and tourist activities across the different South Australian wine regions.

Fan experience tour down under

The Tour Down Under offers a real highlight for spectators who are on bike when the stage finish is within close riding distance to the city. The pro-riders will often choose to ride back to the hotel and mix with the regular riders. You can easily share a word or two with Julian Alaphilippe or Simon Yates as you roll back into town.

Cycling fan experience

As the entire Tour Down Under is tied to Adelaide and the stages all need to be within reasonable travel distance, most locations and stages for the racing are familiar, even when the race organisers try to inject variation into the route planning.

Tour organisers
Helmet Bread

Celebrating the Tour is an annual affair for many of the towns and good business when the tourist descend.

TDU Fever

Other rides and events

Accompanying the Festival of Cycling are a series of official and unofficial events. The Down Under Classic criterium is an evening event and precursor to the main race. RADL GRVL is new gravel ride event that is hosted alongside the Tour Down Under by pro rider Tiffany Cromwell and F1 driver Valtteri Bottas. It attracted so much interest that a number of the media publications and photographers chose to ride or attend the gravel event over some of the stages in the men’s tour down under.

Cycling Clubs Tour Down Under

On a daily basis, various cycling clubs, groups and brands have training rides and rides to and from the stage. The bulk of these are not not formally associated with the race, nor are the pop-up events or brand hosted events around the city.

Behind the scenes are cycling industry events, Bicycle Industries Australia hosted a series of panels and workshops for its members (Australian cycling trade) and experts including sustainability forums that revealed how organisations, brands and shops are approaching and making headway on environmental practices.

This melting pot of riders, their teams, ex-pros, brands, traders and media ensures the entire event is an important affair behind the scenes, with a race that runs in parallel. But the men’s and women’s races make international cycling news. For the women’s race in 2024, Australian Sarah Gigante of team AG Insurance – Soudal took the leader’s jersey on the third and final stage. For the men’s it was a tighter, though Australian (ex-track cyclist) Sam Welsford held the first stage win, Mexican team UAE rider Isaac del Toro Romero gain the overall lead until the final two stages when Welshman Stephen Williams of team Israel-Premier Tech secured the lead and overall race victory.

Sprint Finish Tour Down Under

Christopher Jones
Christopher Joneshttps://www.bicycles.net.au
Christopher Jones is a recreational cyclist and runs a design agency, Signale. As the driving force behind Bicycles.net.au he has one of each 'types' of bicycles.
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