Tour Down Under – the perfect Australian Summer Cycling Week.

The Santos Tour Down Under has been run and won for another year and a VéloRoo Croo was again there lapping up all the excitement and action of the UCI World Tour. The Tour Down Under action isn’t the only great reason to visit Adelaide in January. The weather this time of year is dry and hot, making for great riding conditions. The food is amazing, geared towards freshness and taste and due to Adelaide’s Italian, Greek and Asian flavours, the perfect re-fuel for all occasions. Of course South Australia is rightly famous for its wines too, but also their beers match brilliantly with the post ride cuisine.

When not cheering the pro’s on from the road side, the riding entertainment continues on the road as the stunning historic Adelaide Hills offer some of the best riding Australia has to offer. On your return to Adelaide continue your Cycling Festival around the many bars and cafés.

One thing for sure, Adelaide knows how to throw an event catering for everyone. Everywhere you look, racing, bike and cycling themed events and activities are on for all ages. As a rider, actually even as a non rider, it’s a time you feel very welcomed by all South Australians.

Racing highlights were numerous as always, with the party kicking off with the Official Team Reveal – and after concert – at the TDU Village in Victoria Square, under a long twilight sky on Saturday evening.

Sunday is race time! The first chance for TDU teams to see where they are under race conditions in the inner city “People’s Choice Classic” criterium. Thousands line the course to watch both the Womens and Mens races. The speed, precision and control of the Pro riders never ceases to amaze as the riders seek out millimetre wide “gaps”.

Post race, you retreat to the City for dinner, the excitement of a season underway and a big week of riding and action awaits. Control and pacing required on and off the bike!

Monday the rest day presents the perfect chance to explore or re-visit the superb Adelaide sea front and pull up at any number of cafes. You are almost guaranteed to see World Tour teams out on their training rides and if you are lucky, they may even stop and pull up a table beside you for their caffeine fix. This year we had the Giant Alpecin team share our cafe and bike stands.

Stage 1

Our run to the North Adelaide City of Prospect was perfectly timed to arrive with the Sponsor Caravan…

no red lights for us this morning with our police escort in tow!

No red lights for us this morning with our police escort in tow!

Our introduction to the Adelaide Hills for the VéloRoo’s 2016 Tour Down Under peloton is to the summit of the season’s first KOM in Houghton via the picturesque Tea Tree Gully. Always a fun spot, this year the honours went to Team Uni SA who narrowly edged out Jumbo Lotto.

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Caleb pointing out VéloRoo’s prime KOM position to his fellow competitors.

After the sweep car passed, we remounted and continued on our pre planned route enjoying the wonderful undulating winding roads to our turnaround point, Hillbrook Reservoir.

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If they are not going up and down, they are arcing left and right. Love Adelaide Hills roads.

For today’s lunch stop we chose the private Paracombe Golf Course club house to watch the stage finish on the TV’s , but not until we toppled the turettes inducing wall that is Torrens Hill Road! What a score, with temperatures in the high 30’s the air conditioned club house was the best spot to be.

It was all down hill back to the city afterwards. 10 out of 10!

Stage 2

Stirling. One of the most popular stages for it’s many passes by the Pro Peloton, the lead up is just as much fun for people watching and checking the form of the enthusiastic public riders!

Our route followed the stage from the start, before taking an early divert up to the Windy Point Lookout and it’s amazing views over Adelaide City to the ocean.

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We couldn’t believe it when Tour Down Under boss, route designer extraordinaire and Olympic Cycling Gold Medalist Mr Mike Turtur called us over for a photo with the peloton! Well that’s how I remembered it….

Undulating tree lined roads dominated our passage to the Stirling loop, via a discreet road full of serpentine bends, favoured by locals riders.

Locating our base in Stirling, it was our turn to set our own loop time. The 21 k loop is challenging enough, but throw in another day of dry high 30’s temperature and your attention is well and truely got. We did it once. The Pro’s do it 5 times. Crazy!

Unfortunately we were too slow with our loop and had to seek refuge at the Etixx Power Station!

Unfortunately we were too slow with our loop and had to seek refuge at the Etixx Power Station!

Stirling knows how to dress up for a party!

Stirling knows how to dress up for a party

Stirling never fails to show in a brilliant finish and this year again was no different. We locked in our spot just after the finish line and captured a memory to last a long time for everyone.

Stage finishes are usually a sprinters fest, however that is not the case with Stirling's uphill finish. It has too be one of the best live viewing finish points in the entire World Tour Season.

Stage finishes are usually a sprinters fest, however that is not the case with Stirling’s uphill finish. It has too be one of the best live viewing finish points in the entire World Tour Season.

Following the race, our return back to the City is via the infamous (for being spectacularly narrow towards the end) Freeway Bike Path, where on a good day you might just find yourself heading back with the pro’s!

Stage 3

Corkscrew Road. Since its inclusion a few years ago, the steep twisting climb that is Corkscrew road has been the stage of brutal cycling theatre. The riders have 150 k’s in their legs before they get to the start of the climb. Once over the top they have a fast, super fast, snaking down hill sprint to the finish line. The speed they achieve is insane.

Todays ride was to enjoy as much of a stage ride as possible, so we were going to have nearly 80 on stage k’s! Leaving the city behind, we ascended the Freeway bike path to Stirling where we hopped on stage and started to take in the fun of cheering people on the sides of the road, riding past the race infrastructures. It makes the ride something a bit special.

A planned coffee break at the historic German township of Hahndorf, already buzzing with the expectation of the pro pelotons pass, got everyones twitch muscles going.

Its important to remain hydrated on stage

Its important to remain hydrated on stage

Suitably re-invogorated we traced the lumpy route through the other historic villages of Lobethal, Woodside and Cuddlee Creek, arriving at Corkscrew Road to find the VéloRoo-ber van track side on the second hairpin! Score, what a viewing position.

Could not have locked in a better viewing position on Corkscrew Road.

Could not have locked in a better viewing position on Corkscrew Road.

Watching these guys suffer on Corkscrew like we did was heartening. Comparing their speed on Strava afterwards was demoralising!

Our return to Adelaide was not over the top, but down along the wonderful Gorge Road, which never fails to delight with a combination of tight hairpins, flowing turns and all down hill!

The gorgeous Gorge Road...sorry.

The gorgeous Gorge Road…sorry.

One of the crazy good things about the TDU is because it is based in the City centre, they can build a village for all the teams to utilise for service and a fantastic trade area. Aside from oogling the latest new bikes and bits, some cycling celebrities swing by. Who knows who you may bump into!

Saaaay, you look just like Jens Voight. Of course you can scribble your favourite quote on my bike, go your hardest Mate. What a Champion bloke!

Saaaay, you look just like Jens Voigt. Of course you can scribble your favourite quote on my bike, go your hardest Mate. What a Champion bloke!

Stage 4

Not so many horizontal k’s but still some solid vertical m’s collected. First up was Norton Summit Rd, easily accessed from the City. It is a longer not quite as steep Adelaide’s version of Brisbane’s Mt Cootha and equally as popular. A solid challenge and some fantastic views are your reward if you take your eye off the road in front of your wheel!

We would watch the pro’s pass before taking in the Roller Coaster, being used for the first time this year en route to Mt Lofty.

Adelaide City views from Horton Summit, can't think of a nicer way to start the day!

Adelaide City views from Norton Summit, can’t think of a nicer way to start the day!

The VéloRoo peloton leading out the Pro's by a solid half hour at this point, Bravo!

The VéloRoo peloton leading out the Pro’s by a solid half hour at Norton Summit, Bravo!

Class of 2016 and a big white thing.

Class of 2016 and a big white thing.

Stage 5

Willunga. Or more specifically Old Willunga Hill.

Think of Stirling as a very pretty Paris style finish. Old Willunga Hill is the hyper craziness of Alp d’huez and Mt Ventoux….combined!

Being Saturday, all of Adelaides riding / TDU fan community come out to play as well. Groups large and small meet at their favourite cafes to depart Adelaide in the early morning and head to the pretty wine region of Mc Laren Vale.

This year we chose to ride with my favourite bike shop Treadly Bike Shop. They had teamed up with MAAP Cycling wear and Cycling Tips for a brevet style raid to Willunga! Cool. The crack VéloRoo croo was ready to rumble!

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It didn’t take long to realise that our ride to Willunga was going to have some new friends along as we gathered outside Treadly Bike Shop!

Heading off en mass through the Adelaide streets was a stage in itself! Sprints from the lights when the group split, attacks on the long climb to Stirling. The guys at Treadly had put together an intriguing ride though the hills (and threw in some shocking 20% pinches en route) that only a local would know. The day was warm but the shade of the tree lined route kept us cool with strong eucalyptus and pine aromas aiding our passage. Of course traversing the ranges meant there were quite a few superb fast and flowing descents and spectacular views along the way.

There is something wonderful about exploring new roads and places by bike. It is even better when there is the prospect of Willunga at the end!

Reaching Willunga, we were left to make the climb at our own pace and had options of viewing positions. The VéloRoo-ber bus was on the flat enjoying 5 passes of the peloton, or the Treadly/MAAP/Cycling Tips area was 300 meters from the finish on Willunga Hill. Awesome!

The first time I've ever been able to ride under the Willunga finish banner. Score!

The first time I’ve ever been able to ride under the Willunga finish banner. Score!

Just after the start on McLaren Vale, a polished accent called out "VéloRoo! Can I get a photo?" Imagine my surprise to see it was Mr Brian Cookson UCI Supremo! No worries Mate! It doesn't matter who you are the Tour Down Under is all about escaping the day to day and have a bit of fun.

Just after the start on McLaren Vale, a polished accent called out “VéloRoo! Can I get a photo?” Imagine my surprise to see it was Mr Brian Cookson UCI Supremo! No worries Mate! It doesn’t matter who you are the Tour Down Under is all about escaping the day to day and have a bit of fun.

364 days of the year the historic township of Willunga is a wonderful place to have lunch at any number of restaurants, cafes or pubs. Today is a little louder than normal.

364 days of the year the historic township of Willunga is a wonderful place to have lunch at any number of restaurants, cafes or pubs. Today is a little louder than normal.

Pure. Adrenalin induced. Fun for everyone.

Pure. Adrenalin induced. Fun for everyone.

Of course as we all know, Richie Porte dominated Willunga again, but it wasn’t quite enough to take the Ochre from the shoulders of Simon Gerrans. So many race highlights. Brilliant.

Stage 6

After everyone enjoyed their last Adelaide morning ride the VéloRoo-ber van  “taxi for your bike” packed up ready for the trip home. Sunday sees Stage 6 run through the streets of Adelaide giving everyone up close action that you don’t even need to ride a bike to.

Our last morning ride was with a group of wonderful people. A local Adelaide cycling club that have over the years become friends. We had a last roll to the Adelaide seaside suburbs, a shared coffee and said our goodbyes.

Until 2017, ride safe and happy guys.

Until 2017, ride safe and happy guys – more are coming in the background…that’ll teach em for not downing the lattes :)

Wrap!

Adelaide and the Tour Down Under are set to continue for as long as Adelaide wants it. What a wonderful story for Adelaide, the TDU and Professional Cycling.

The TDU is so much more than a bike race.

Unlike every other race on the calendar, the daily return to the city centre means access to the riders, the stages and action is unprecedented.

The organisers have incredible activities and events for non riding partners and the public as well, it really is all inclusive.

For the riders both professional and enthusiastic, the roads, terrain, landscapes and variety are superb. There isn’t a better place for riding that caters for every taste and style.

Adelaide is famed for its food and wines and rightly so. The people have a very European take on lifestyle based around food. It is wonderful to be a part of.

If you have never been to the TDU, your first visit will not be your last.

We will be there again in 2017 offering our version of getting a great experience of the Tour Down Under. We hope you can join us!

 

 

 

 

 

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