Sunday 19th January 2014
It’s known as the City of Churches, but the religion this week in Adelaide is 100% bikes and world-class road racing.
And no surprises – the 16th Santos Tour Down Under is now the largest cycling event in the Southern Hemisphere. 20 teams, 23 nationalities represented, 5 current national champions competing; as Lotto Belisol’s sprint king Andre Greipel said yesterday, “this week Adelaide is the centre of the whole of Australian cycling.” Things kicked off today with the People’s Choice Classic, a thrilling 50km crit prelude to the six-stage race. Unlike the previous week – or previous years, in fact – Mother Nature took pity on South Australia and dialled down her ferocity, easing up on the relentless string of 40+ degree days and instead giving riders something a lot more manageable.
Cyclists responded, and crowds witnessed a red-hot race that saw our friends at ORICA-AIS completely and convincingly dominate in the women’s (1. Gunnewijk, 2. Hoskins, 3. Edmondson). Later in the men’s (1. Kittel, 2. Greipel, 3. Ewan) it probably was little surprise to watch sprint kings rocket home in first and second place. However, we can’t hide a thrill to see an Aussie young gun cut it with the finest and take third – are we watching a new chapter in world-best racing unfold fast on our very doorstep…?
Yes indeedy, the scene has been set for what to expect in coming days, and the buzz is building. Swarms of spectators are streaming through the Adelaide City Council Tour Village and Bike Expo (crowds of 760,000+ expected), making the most of this unique event that sees pros return to the same base every day. The result – a central hub where fans rub shoulders alongside their cycling heroes. Not bad at all!
But before the action begins, there’s plenty that gets done behind the scenes to make it all happen. Let’s say the thrills and spills don’t just take place out on the course!
Thanks to our friends at Oakley, BikeExchange has been watching it all unfold, and tonight we start what will be a series of highlights. We’ll go off-road to bring you a taste of the magic that is the 2014 Santos Tour Down Under – we hope you enjoy watching as much as we get a kick from playing paparazzi!