By Khairunnisa Schebella cyclingnews.com correspondent
Back in July 2001, while TDU Ambassador Stuart O'Grady enjoyed magnificent success on the other side of the world at the Tour de France, Tourism Minister Joan Hall and Race Director Mike Turtur announced today the route plan for this year's race, along with presenting the new poster and website at the prestigious Memorial Drive fitness centre Next Generation.
Three new stages were unveiled, rewarding towns and regions who have gone one step beyond in supporting previous tours, as well as offering new chances for attacks in the later part of the stages. Some confusion has arisen amongst the public that the race has been extended to nine stages but Turtur maintains the race will not be expanded and that six stages are perfect for the early season race and questioned the wisdom of the length and severity of some other early season races such as the Tour de Langkawi.
Stage two starts in Hahndorf, the home of the first European settlers in South Australia and a typical Germanesque village. Passing through in the past three TDU's for intermediate sprints, this year Hahndorf will be rewarded with a stage start on this 150 km parcours. Heading towards Woodside and up Checkers Hill for the first KOM sprint, the course swings back through Mount Torrens for the first intermediate sprint of the race and then the second back in Hahndorf. Then heading inland for 30 km and along the Adelaide plains towards Kanmantoo, it turns south for a lightning descent into picturesque Strathalbyn for a riverside finish.
Stage three starts and finishes in the town of Willunga (best dressed town in 2001) on the Fleurieu Peninsula, a first for the Jacobs Creek TDU. A 149 km stage comprising a three lap circuit around the vineyards and almond groves of McLaren Vale and along the beach holiday roads of Aldinga. On the third approach to Willunga the course heads up Old Willunga Hill for the only KOM sprint of the stage and around the back of the Mount Lofty Ranges allowing the opportunity for someone to launch a late attack.
Stage four presents the only city start for 2002 along the pave of King William Road in Unley and then winds through the Adelaide Hills towards the coastal town of Victor Harbour. As Turtur states, the King William Road atmosphere is the closest feel we get to a European race. "With its traders getting into the spirit of the race each year with shop windows being decorated in the cycling fever, there have been even little cakes produced in the shape of a bike!"
The race snakes up the freeway and through the Heysen Tunnel and branches off south into the delightful hill villages of Sterling, Aldgate, Mylor and Echunga just to keep the local police on their toes! The first sprint will be at Echunga (where they also hold their biggest fundraiser of the year for the Country Fire Service). After Meadows its a nice long descent all the way to Ashbourne and then onto the next sprint in Goolwa. From Goolwa the race follows the windy coastal road west to Victor Harbour and then heads up to Newland Hill for the stages only KOM sprint. To finish the 141 km stage the race returns to Victor Harbour, a place where the Great Southern Right whales visit each year to give birth.
The Stage five 156.5 km parcours replicates 2001 and 2000. The only difference being that after the start in Gawler the race will complete a circuit of the town before heading through the Barossa Valley towns of Williamstown, Lyndoch and Tanunda. Passing through the century and a half old vines of Jacob's Creek for the first intermediate sprint it then heads up Mengler (the Mongrel) Hill for a two lap sojourn with two KOM sprints sorting the men from the boys, before finishing in Tanunda. This is the day when the race can be won or lost.
The final Stage returns to the Adelaide 4.5 km city circuit around the River Torrens with a 20 lap attack of Montefiore Hill. Not necessarily a deadly ascent but for 20 laps it takes its toll and the hairpin turn just past the start finish gives the punters great value for no money!!! An after race food and wine festival and concert will add to the fever that spreads throughout South Australia over the week, another great addition to South Australia's single largest spectator event.
TV coverage will still be with Channel 7 although no mention of extended times was mentioned today. Official Radio coverage will be with Triple M and cyclingnews.com is proud to be hosting the official website for the event, www.tourdownunder.com.au.
New sponsors are SA Lotteries for the Sprint Jersey, SE Net as Information Technology Provider and Interflora will put together the brilliant bouquets that get tossed to the crowd!
2001 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole 2000 Gilles Maignan (Fra) Ag2r Prevoyance 1999 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole