It’s still road racing time in Australia, and we’re so lucky, our good friends Nikki and Gethin are down at the Tour Down Under, blogging for us – here’s their race preview! Come back for more throughout the race, follow them on twitter and on their travel blog.
We’re away travelling at the moment and more by luck than judgement we find ourselves in Australia at the height of their road racing season. At this time of year, most of Australia’s best riders are home from Europe & join the domestic riders for a number of events either side of the Aussie nationals – held last week in Ballarat, Victoria (a couple of hours from Melbourne). We’d already blogged for Neutral Service about the Bay Crits in Melbourne, then we were delighted to discover that the Santos Tour Down Under in Adelaide is also running a 4 stage women’s race alongside the UCI-rated men’s event. We’d already thought about going over and combining the men’s race with a couple of days indulging our inner wine-ponce in the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. The women’s race sealed the deal, so here we are in Adelaide….
The field for the event looks very strong considering it’s not an official UCI race. As at the Bay Crits, the domestic NRS (National Road Series) teams are joined by Orica AIS, Wiggle Down Under (as they’re branding themselves here), Roxsolt (Kelvin Rundle‘s pop-up team of riders from other teams that don’t send a squad down-under).
Interest also comes in the form of a new NRS level team racing for the first time. The High 5 Dream Team that has been set up by Rochelle Gilmore, their aim is to provide promising young Australian riders with a proper team structure and mentoring to help prepare them for riding with pro teams in the future. With Gilmore also running Wiggle, this must be a great incentive for the riders involved as they can see a pathway to the top. You can find out more about the team by reading or listening to Sarah’s interview with Rochelle.
The organisers have come up with a set of stages in and around Adelaide, meaning teams and fans can base themselves in one place for the whole race which is pretty handy.
Stage 1 – Saturday 17 Jan (1100 local / 0030 UK)
Racing starts tomorrow (Saturday 17 Dec) with a 59km stage from Woodside to Murray Bridge. It’s mainly downhill and looks like it’ll lend itself to fast racing and a bunch sprint
Stage info (website) / Route map and elevation (PDF)
Stage 2 – Sunday 18 Jan (1745 local / 0715 UK)
A pan-flat 40 min crit in the centre of Adelaide. It’s immediately followed by the curtain raiser crit for the men’s event so expect big crowds and the sprinters to shine.
Stage info (website)
Stage 3 – Monday 19 Jan (1200 local / 0130 UK)
This looks to be the most challenging. Starting atTanunda in the heart of the Barossa Valley wine country and finishing in Campbelltown on the north-westsuburbs of Adelaide. Whilst it’s a short stage, there’s a couple of decent climbs and ifthere’s going to be a break that gets away and stays away it’ll be here.
Stage 4 – Tuesday 20 Jan (1830 local / 0800 UK)
Another flat crit stage on a different central Adelaide circuit, this one is slightly longer at 1h10 plus a lap. Hopefully stage 3 will mean that there’s some GC issues to be
settled to add another level of interest over and above the stage winner.
Stage info (website)
This is the first year the TDU has held a stage race for the women. Hopefully this years event will be a success and encourage the organisers to have some slightly longer stages with a more challenging terrain next time around. As it is, we’re grateful they’ve put on 4 days of racing and attracted such a strong field. Conditions look pretty much perfect with temperatures of high 20s, low winds and sunshine predicted – which should be far less cruel on the European riders than the 42C that we saw at Bay Crits.
17 teams of 5 riders, plus 9 individual riders will start the race. As you’d expect, the field is predominantly Australian riders. Overseas interest comes from:
- Wiggle: Giorgia Bronzini (ITA), Emilia Fahlin (SWE) & Eileen Roe (GBR)
- Roxsolt: Lucy Martin (GBR) warming up for herseason with Matrix Pro Cycling
- Total Rush Hyster: Laura Vainionpää (FIN)
- Holden: Lucy Caldwell (GBR)
- Orica AIS: Loes Gunnewijk (NED) & Valentina Scandolara (ITA)
- Building Champions Women’s Squad: Lydia Rippon (NZL)
- SUVelo Racing: Emily Collins (NZL)
- Individuals: Serene Lee (SIN), Isabelle Beckers (BEL), Amalie Olsen(DEN)
Unfortunately there’s no live coverage but highlights of each stage are being shown on Fox and GEM within Australia and should be available online afterwards. Links when we get them. Nikki will be on course with her camera so we’ll try to get some photos and a quick blog post up after each stage. You can follow the race live with the TDU hashtag.