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News Feature, July 13, 2007

Down Under set for brilliant anniversary

By Khairunnisa Schebella

Happy anniversary! The Tour Down Under will celebrate
Photo ©: Khairunnisa Schebella
(Click for larger image)

The 10th Anniversary Tour Down Under was launched by organisers at Adelaide Festival Theatre's Space Theatre yesterday. In a celebratory party mode, resplendent with party hats and orange cupcakes, all the familiar faces from the past 10 years were on hand to present next year's program.

Oppy the race Kangaroo pointed the way through to the theatre, where race caller Jimmy Jacques kicked off a hi-tech sound and light show, featuring jerseys and podium girl fashions from the inaugural race in 1999 through to next year's space-age skin suit.

Premier Mike Rann made an impromptu appearance, confirming the State Government's ongoing commitment to the event. State Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith was also on hand, having just returned from a meeting with UCI officials at the Tour de France's start in London, to announce an expanded line-up for next year's event, which will span two weekends in 2008.

Lomax-Smith was also excited about the State Government's push towards the Adelaide race being a 'natural' first non-European race on the ProTour calendar. A decision on the UCI ProTour, and whether the Tour Down Under has earned a spot on it, will be made in September.

Space girl: A model flashes next year's
Photo ©: Khairunnisa Schebella
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"What has happened, the passion for cycling in South Australia, over the past ten years, is nothing short of phenomenal", said Lomax-Smith. "I remember the first launch back in Ayer House - I knew nothing about cycling. We now understand, and with a passion, about this sport. We now know what it means to be in the peloton. We watch the Tour de France and the stars we see there are the same stars we see here."

One very exciting change for 2008 will be the team presentation, which will be made free to the public for the first time. The presentation will be held at Glenelg by the beachside on the evening of the Down Under Classic.

Race founder and director Mike Turtur then unveiled the route for January's race. On January 20, the event gets underway with a family day with the Breakaway Mutual Community Fun Tour, and a Fun Tour for Kids in addition to the team presentation. The Down Under Classic will comprise 25 laps of the two kilometre street circuit along Colley Terrace, right into Jetty Road then right again into Sussex Terrace and onto Anzac Highway, then up to the roundabout at Scott Ave and back down Anzac Highway to Colley Terrace again. For those that don't ride to Glenelg, its easily accessible via a tram from Tour Village in Victoria Square.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann
Photo ©: Khairunnisa Schebella
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Monday is a rest day, with media conferences, a short training ride, bit of shopping in Rundle Mall, and undoubtedly some tanning time by the Hilton pool.

On Tuesday January 22, Stage 1 kicks off with a 129 kilometre test from Mawson Lakes in the northern suburbs, finishing in Angaston after a short trip through the Barossa Valley. The first King of the Mountains points will be contested at Black Top Road, only 11 kilometres from the start, so climbing specialists will be on the rivet from the gun. The stage snakes through One Tree Hill and back to Gawler, then kicks east through Sandy Creek, Lyndoch for the first sprint points. The stage then tracks toward Tanunda to begin the double loop of a circuit around Barossa, which passes through Seppeltsfield, Greenock, Nuriootpa and Angaston.

Dignitaries prepare to enter the theater
Photo ©: Khairunnisa Schebella
(Click for larger image)

Wednesday's Stage 2 heads back to the gorgeous Adelaide Hills to start a day's racing of 148 kilometres. The riders will make a lightening start, keeping the police motorbikes on their throttles, down through Aldgate and Mylor to Echunga, for the first sprint, followed by a loop through Meadows, Macclesfield and Flaxley. They then head through Echunga again and up Church Hill Road for the second KOM points around the 45 km mark. After the climb, it's down to Mount Barker and then onto Littlehampton, and Balhannah for the next sprint points and a four lap circuit through Ambleside and Hahndorf. Spectators will have a great opportunity to see lots of the race on this stage, with Turtur's team lengthening the Hahndorf finish by 200metres due to increasing crowd numbers in recent years.

There's some good news for King William Road street party supporters, because the event, as well as the stage start, will be back again in 2008. Thursday's Stage 3 begins amongst the gourmet foods and fine fashions on the pave in Hyde Park and heads south on the Southern Expressway towards McLaren Vale. It passes the historic Victory Hotel at Sellicks before taking to the next KOM at around kilometre 44. Two sprints will be contested, one at Mount Compass at kilometre 67 and the other at kilometre 92 in Goolwa. From Goolwa the race hits the southern coastline towards Port Elliot, then peels off inland towards Inman Valley and then finally swings back into the finish at Victor Harbour after 139 kilometres on the bike.

Like any good birthday celebration,
Photo ©: Khairunnisa Schebella
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Friday's Stage 4 begins on the Murray River again at Mannum. From the river the riders head back north-west across the plains through Palmer for early KOM points at kilometre 19. Then it's back towards the Adelaide hills via Tungkillo, Mount Pleasant and turning south towards Mount Torrens for the first sprint of the day at the 48 kilometre mark. The stage heads south through Woodside, where another sprint will be contested at kilometre 60, and Innerbracke before heading east again through Nairne and Dawesly. Riders then push onwards to Kanmantoo then Callington before retuning to Langhorne Creek and diverting to the beautiful town of Strathalbyn. Thousands of punters will also ride the Mutual Community Challenge Tour on this day, so let's hope it's not too torrential and cold like this year's event, or tar-meltingly hot like 2006.

The Events South Australia staff
Photo ©: Khairunnisa Schebella
(Click for larger image)

Saturday's Stage 5 remains the traditional Willunga and Aldinga three lap circuit, with two sprints on the Esplanade at Aldinga on laps two and three. The final sweep up to Old Willunga Hill sees another KOM at kilometre 127 and then a quick descent into Willunga to finish the race after 147 kilometres of riding.

A Adelaide City Street Circuit will cap off a great week of cycling on Sunday, but with a bit a twist in 2008. Due to the Test Cricket match being held at Adelaide Oval over the weekend, the race has moved to the East End and will offer spectators more chance to see the race as the circuit will be two-way along the length of the course. Starting the 5.5 kilometre course in Rundle Road, the16 lap race heads around East Terrace, hairpins back on itself into Rundle Road, then follows Dequettevile Terrace up and into Bartels Road. The route then turns left into Hutt Street and goes all the way along to just before South Terrace before hooking back on itself again along the same route.

All the other trimmings you love like Club Tour, the Breakaway Series, the Tour Village, the Legends Night, The Kids Fun Tour, The Classic Vets Series, Phil Liggett's morning rides, The Art of Cycling Exhibition etc will all return in 2008.

So it looks like another brilliant January in Adelaide for bike lovers. See you Down Under!


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Images by Khairunnisa Schebella

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