The Moment The Race Was Won: The Tour Down Under

Tour Down Under Campbelltown

Simon Gerrans has survived the attacks on the climb of Corkscrew road and now sprints for the double hit of the stage win in Campbelltown and the overall race lead thanks to the 10 second time bonus. This was the moment the race was won.

Gerrans rode the perfect race. He even crashed in the right place, when he took a fall in Stirling it was in the closing metres so the three kilometre rule applied and he lost no time; more importantly he didn’t lose much skin either. All week long he was in the right place, taking intermediate sprints to collect the time bonuses and bagging two stage wins. This was achieved thanks to the efforts of his team with Daryl Impey especially visible at the crucial moments to toil so that Gerrans could stay fresh for the sprints.

Gerrans is a master of staying cool when things heat up. He waited as Richie Porte, Sergio Henao and Michael Woods attacked on the Corkscrew climb. A gamble but it paid off and meant when they sprinted into town he was fresher for the sprint and could win the day and collect the time bonuses. He won the next day in Victor Habor in a similar manner, sitting tight on the climb and before being dropped off for the sprint by Daryl Impey to take the stage and the time bonus.

Richie Porte

Willunga Hill is the big summit finish but it’s not proving decisive thanks to the addition of other hilly stages. Richie Porte took his third stage win here in three years but it’s never been enough to win the race outright, as much as Porte can put daylight between himself and the rest on a longer climb he’s not able to snipe the bonus seconds elsewhere.

With Porte’s win, McCarthy’s stage win plus two each for Gerrans and Caleb Ewan Australian fans would have been waltzing with delight as the home nation took every stage, a feat that hasn’t happened since 2002. Is this good or a sign of trouble? It’s both plus a bit of luck, had Diego Ulissi won in Stirling it wouldn’t be such a talking point. It’s good as Australians make up a large share of the pro peloton now and they want to shine while the majority of Euro and US riders are still emerging from hibernation. It’s problematic if the race becomes the Australian stage race championships in the same way the Giro excites the Italians but struggles to lure others. There are hints the race will be paying teams in 2017 to send more star riders. But will they race hard? It’s one thing to bring the stars, another to get them in the mix. The January slot means peak now and there’s not much else to race for. This can’t be changed short of moving the race to February to encourage others to arrive in top shape knowing their form can be carried into other races. The UCI has tried behind the scenes this but seems to be settling on the January slot with UCI President Cookson sayingif that means that we start the WorldTour at the end of January than the beginning of February I think we can do that. I think we have to do that.” As said before the contrast with the Tour de San Luis is flagrant, the least the UCI could do is put San Luis on a week later to save TDU race boss Mike Turtur’s face after he’s paid for a premium event only to see a constellation of stars assembling in San Luis instead. The race is working well now with a variety of stage finishes, gone are the daily sprint finishes, now it’s worth waking up for in the middle of the night albeit because the final 10 minutes of every stage contain 90% of the action. The combination of spiky climbs near the finish and time bonuses works well to engineer the suspense for those watching on TV while the hub format of stages radiating like spokes out from Adelaide makes this a draw for many Australians.

The TV broadcast is a curiosity. Robbie McEwen seems to have the telescopic ability to see deep into the peloton and pick out riders and is a great asset. The oddest part is watching the Channel 9 livestream as it cuts away to native adverts for South Australian tourism voiced by Phil Liggett. Many places use a race to promote their region but the TDU’s TV seems to be a part of the race rather than the observation of it. Talking of images were there any on-board cameras? Velon’s Twitter account chirped one link to a Tinkoff-Saxo “behind the scenes” piece. Has the onboard camera revolution stalled?

Caleb Ewan

The race brings its revelations. Caleb Ewan’s doesn’t count already won a stage in the Vuelta and plenty more although this hasn’t stopped many from “discovering” his economical, low sprinting style. There’s an old French cycling maxim that says “rends-toi petit pour devenir grand” which translates as “make yourself small to become great” and Ewan perfects this. If anything a stage win and a spell in ochre is the minimum expectation and the real test is whether he can do it on a wet Wednesday in Wevelgem. He’s got years to try.

Michael Woods Cannondale

Jay McCarthy got a breakthrough win in Stirling after some promising results over the past two seasons like a podium in the last Tour of Turkey. Michael Woods impressed too with his riding, sticking it to Richie Porte on the Corkscrew climb and not for the first time: Woods recounts on his blog last year’s Volta a Algarve when he got slapped him on the back: “I heard an Australian accented voice say ‘Great race yesterday.’  The voice belonged to Richie Porte” and if you look at the results for the day Porte was talking about Woods was among fine company on a fierce stage.

Lucas Hamilton

Stealth revelation is Lucas Hamilton, the youngest rider in the race and 14th on Willunga Hill after attacking halfway up the climb and there’s no fluking this kind of power. Chris Hamilton, no relation, and U23 Aussie Champion was 11th on Willunga too. It’s all very reminiscent of Jack Haig.

The Verdict
An entertaining race that’s now close to perfection when it comes to fulfilling its curtain raiser. It provides a sunny introduction to the season and a week of condensed action thanks to punchy arrivals and time bonuses. This is canned racing but it works as the early season introduction. It does point to the incoherence the World Tour with the stars in San Luis and the long wait until the next premium race in March.

After missing out last year Simon Gerrans is back and we’ll see what he does during the rest of the year, especially alongside Michael Matthews.

122 thoughts on “The Moment The Race Was Won: The Tour Down Under”

  1. Looks like Gerrans has put in the right sort of training for one final blast at the springs classics.
    And even if some of the other riders were using the TDU as a training block it’s certainly safer than training on the roads of Spain.

        • You’re absolutely right, but I was partly affected by personal experience when commenting above, albeit with no direct relation to the Calpe accident, about which we maybe don’t know every detail.
          Cycling in an environment where drivers are usually *very* patient and kind, I started to collect a couple of bad experiences, and tourists from countries with a pattern of stronger and more established “conflict” between cyclists and cars happened to be involved. Anecdotally, Italians were the worst ones (at least, they didn’t U-turn to kill me as someone recently did on home soil).
          For good or ill, it’s more and more “roads of Europe”, not just “roads of Spain”.
          And the sort of attitude which is being unlashed on media comments, social and so on must be tackled with strong policies like racism and the likes are (or should be). I appreciated the fact that Quintana decided to speak loud about the subject, more known faces taking a stance would be welcome.

          • The smiley was to imply ironical distance with what I was writing: that is, I think that the other commenter might have been more careful when deciding to focus on nationality in his *humurous* commentary. The easiest way to make it clear was underlining *that other* specific element of the accident to which I made reference, but it’s not something I’m really interested in – unless it’s needed to go against prejudice or that sort of assumptions: hence, the ironical distance and the smiley, like, you perhaps should take *this* into accout, but I really don’t think this is important outside the current interchange. Plus, it was intended to make the other reader know that, ok, IMHO he might have been more careful, but his *joke* wasn’t anyway a big deal, for me at least. However, I still don’t get why that was fine enough for you while you’re having this much of a trouble with the reply.

          • Without wanting to go too much into this particular incident, my own experience of cycling in both the UK and Spain is that drivers in Spain seemed much more considerate of cyclists. And the only one who really caused me concern (by pulling out into my path without looking, “sorry mate I didn’t see you” style) had GB plates.

          • Gabriele, I think the team needs to hire cops to close roads when they are doing training camps and riding in the big groups. Collision with cars are less likely to happen. Honestly, it is stupid to think that Giant didn’t do it and they are not protecting more their athletes.

          • Nancy – WHAT?!? You want every team to hire cops to close the roads when they’re doing training rides? The potential cost of this is insane.

          • It seems to me that having a lead car in addition to a follow car (I assume they had one for the Giant ride) would keep the team a bit safer and even more noticeable on the road.

          • All fine and good about caution, but let’s try not to put the blame on the victims. People on a bicycle are fully legitimate users of the road as every driver out there.
            In more general terms (i.e., not strictly referred to the Giant accident), if the cars are causing trouble, *they* are the problem. Maybe sort of a cultural shift is needed. We’ve been used to thinking about cars as a wonderful central object of our daily life (indispensable, identitary, given for granted), they’re even beloved toons all children adore – still they’re *homicide machines*, too, and it’s ok to remember that from time to time.

  2. In some ways the Tour Down under is almost a victim of its own success. Wheres it used to be a bit of summer break for the Euro peloton, it’s now a hard fought race, and and only riders who have been building form for the previous month or two have a hope of getting a result. But now there’s more hills it’s less enticing for sprinters, so the organisers should turn that redundant non-Tour opening criterium into a proper stage, so at least the fast men can have another race for a WT win and points. Also the bonus seconds have to go, they’re an artefact from when it was just a bunch of sprint stages so there would be something of a proper GC. Gerrans rode cannily and strongly, but Porte or Henao should have been the victor this year, Porte last year and Evans the year before.

    The Tour of San Luis seems a bit of a joke event. Really just a South American championship/Movistar training camp with added guests. Yeah they attract (with big money) quality riders, who then just plug away fairly anonymously to top 10 finishes behind far lesser names. And because there’s practically no coverage and no TV guys like Sagan know they can turn up with no form and hairy legs just to have a relaxed pedal in the sun. There’s no way they could pull off something like that at the TDU with all the cycling media in attendance. As INRNG stated above: “It’s one thing to bring the stars, another to get them in the mix.”

    • Partially you’re right, but I would not dare to state “no stars in the mix” with two Quintana bros on the GC podium. 7-th Majka, 14-th Nibali and Sagan with one 2nd place seemingly confirms the “relaxed pedal in the sun” but there was even too much sun with 35+ temperatures which is no problemo for South-Americans. And of course, the stars are just in training whereas for local guys it is the best race and most publicity they can dream of, so they try hard.
      They could shift themselves w.r.t. Down Under and I’d say it’s OK.

    • I fail to see why you say that the TDU limits stem from “its own success” whereas TdSL is a “joke event” when describing exactly the same phenomenon: local riders who’ve got specific training and/or who are more interested in the event look strong, while those who’re coming from Europe – maybe paid to be there (something which you might recall the TDU isn’t ashame of doing) – aren’t throwing into the race a comparable effort or performance.
      At the end of the day, it’s not like the TDU final GC (which is indeed a bit better) is overshining that much the TdSL’s one. Besides the Quintana bros or Nibali, who just took a day off, you’ve got Superman López up there, Majka, Vuillermoz… and speaking of sprints Gaviria-Sagan-Viviani isn’t exactly worse than Ewan-Renshaw-Wippert.
      Also note that the TDU has received a huge push thanks to its WT status, which I consider well-deserved (maybe with less points at stake) and to which the organisers have replied with great racing conditions and world level TV – as opposed to TdSL: nevertheless, that status obviously came “from above” to help raising the race level, it’s not like it was only granted when the race had “per se” reached the level of Ti-Ad, Pa-Ni, País Vasco, TdSuisse or the likes, which it just hasn’t and won’t in a good while.

      • Perhaps I was being a bit harsh, but I remember this from a couple of years ago:

        Obviously you can’t compare an event that’s not even 20 years old to iconic races like P-N, T-A etc. But as Strade Bianche shows, a race that’s not even 10 can have great status. Amusingly there is a low level brouhaha about Chris Froome turning up for the Herald Sun Tour (run since 1952) but skipping the TDU, mostly from some questionable comments of Cookson’s.

        • @Augie March, just to make it clear: I don’t think that the TdSL as it is should be awarded WT status, among other things because behind the scenes some leading characters of the local movement (not sportsmen, sport politicians) have been accused of way worse things than the ones reported above. Probably it’s just suspicions and voices, but it’s more than enough to leave the race in its current folkloric condition which they probably prefer, too.
          That said, organisational and political aspects are a bit different from sporting values, participation and more or less devoted effort: that was what you’re speaking of in your first comment, and what you linked above shows, among other things, how badly some WT riders were into the competition at TdSL, whereas at the TDU, for some reason, many just don’t care. Eurocentric pride when being matched by riders you don’t respect that much and maybe suspect to be in a different doping context (while the Aussie are now seen as Euro, many times, ’cause they live there and often spend their juvenile years in Italy, to start with)? Squabbling over supposed mutual respect or whatever?
          I don’t know, but the TDU’s atmosfere is often *festive* for most riders, the competition looks more… sportive, whereas in TdSL you happen to see nerves you wouldn’t expect to be there.
          Note that, also from this POV, I think that the attitude we see at the TDU is way more suited to a January race, I like it better in that sense.
          But the comparison you were drawing above and the point you made in your first comment simply didn’t worl, IMHO at least.

  3. Inrng I think you underplayed how much better the racing in San Luis is. If only the TV coverage was even remotely half-decent no one would be talking about the relatively tame TDU in comparison. As I watch San Luis it seems to me the ideal World Tour curtain raiser and the TDU the gentler, more benign race. Not to be obtuse but a stage race that Simon Gerrans can win based on bonus seconds is not one to light a fire in my cycling heart. And, as you said, look at the riders each race draws. Were it not for the Australians in the peloton wanting to race on home turf I can only imagine the field would be even more diluted. So for me, San Luis is the better race. If they get there TV act together it could become even more of a draw.

    • It might have better racing but few can see it, the livestream on Youtube is a start and better than nothing but still a very inferior product and at best 10-20,000 people were tuning in. They seem limited in the cameras, have no onscreen graphics for KMs to go, time gaps etc. If it keeps on improving it’ll become a good race but perhaps the UCI could avoid the calendar clash?

      • What incentive do they have to do that? One is a highly publicised World Tour race in a “Western” country and the other is a lower grade, badly televised event in a South American backwater. The only reason we are having this discussion now is that San Luis punches above its weight and draws riders of note on a much better parcours whilst the TDU relies on 10 minutes of action at the end of some stages. Even Willunga Hill is a modest climb whereas the stage Sepulveda won the other day was on a proper test of a climb. What I think the UCI should do is make San Luis a World Tour race and have it as the opener and make the TDU a couple of weeks later.

        • TDU wont move back to Feb because that takes it out of school holidays time etc, which means concerns over the same level of visitors to the area (to justify the cost of SA hosting it)

          And the UCI cant just make a race a WT race. The race organisers have to want to make the two steps up the league. Which in turn means higher costs – prize money, more stringent reqs around policing the event, safety and so on. And higher onus on AD controls, which again the race organisers have to fund. And lets face it, if you’re TdSL, you’re attracting the big names already whilst still only having to fund the costs of a lower level race.

  4. TDU is great at what it does, no doubt about that, and the starstruck fretting and whingeing about San Luis is best seen as just so much froth. The clash of timings is unfortunate, no more.

    Where TDU might have a bit of a problem is in being too formulaic. Four wins for Gerro now; three in succession on Willunga for Porte; how many sprinters are going to bother challenging Ewan in January from now on?

    This race is tailor-made for Gerrans. He couldn’t devise a better one-week stage race for his talents, not at any time of the year, never mind Australia in January. Opening sprint stage, check; Sterling, check; Old Willunga, check; closing Adelaide crit, check; bonifications and lots of sprintermediates, check; oh look, Corkscrew again too. Now we all know the Aussies love a winner, especially an Aussie winner, but for everybody else that’s all a little bit too close to the bone of being too predictable, too automatic.

    Change it up, spice it up a bit for next year, please. And not simply by paying Chris Froome or Nairo Quintana to ride the race. From a sporting POV, that’s pointless.

    • Spicing up the route would be interesting. A few ideas would include using an alternate descent for Willunga Hill to create a shorter course, and getting rid of the flat laps, creating a real crosswind stage right along the coast, using Norton Summit near a finish, also possibly within a loop, and there are multiple gravel roads of the ilk we saw in that mental Tour of Alberta stage last year.

      • The Willunga stage already uses the quickest route back to Willunga. From someone that lives in Adelaide and has watch the race 7 or 8 times Willunga is getting a bit boring. As are some other stages like Stirling. There are a lot of great roads around Adelaide but the problem is getting to them as a lot are in residential areas that are very difficult to close roads for. Greenhill Rd to Mt Lofty would make a great 10km summit finish but it would mean closing a streets where thousands of people live. There’s still a lot of intense opposition to even having cyclists on roads in Australia let alone allowing a professional race. Perhaps half the population of Adelaide would probably prefer the Tour Down Under would just disappear.

  5. “rends-toi petit pour devenir grand” …. where did you get this? I have never heard such a thing and have been living in a French environment for a long time. Even googling gives no results.

    But yes indeed, Ewan does get pretty low on his bike when sprinting.

  6. ‘whether he can do it on a wet Wednesday in Wevelgem’
    I hope this becomes cycling journalism’s equivalent of football’s now ubiquitous ‘cold rainy Tuesday at Stoke’. Brilliant.

  7. As an Aussie I love watching this race with the reasonable watching hours and the addition of a few climbs making it more than a sprinters stage race. It would be great to see some overseas stars have a real crack at winning the overall and at least one A-grade sprinter to give the locals a run for their money. I get the impression that many pros want a more gentle start to the year and the fact that TDU is World Tour is a turn-off. The racing is more intense and crashes are more likely. I also hear that appearance money at San Louis is awfully tempting for a few stars.

    • I agree it is in reasonable hours for us in oz to watch on tv and it is worth making the trip to see. However it is getting stale and predictable due to our guys being in better form. Comments on here about Willunga, Gerro’s wins, bonuses etc shows it probably needs a shake up. I’ve always enjoyed the race but equally I’ve always felt it misses something by being so early in the season. Pity, as we produce so many good riders to justify more but I believe cycling will always remain essentially eurocentric.

  8. Exciting race to start the season with packaged highlights easy to find on YouTube from the organisers and GCN. TDU have certainly formulated a good model for a seemingly successful race. The OGE Backstage Passes are great for finding more about the race that the highlights might glance over but they’re so much fun as well. If Velon could produce video packages of this standard everyday it’d be a great product. The onboard camera highlights they produce are interesting but the 3minute clip videos of them soon lose their appeal once the novelty wears off.

    Loved the “wet Wednesday in Wevelgem” line … Is Mr. Inrng secretly a Stoke fan?! 😉

  9. With apologies to all the Aussies – IT’S F___ING JANUARY! There should be NO WT events now, no matter where the hell they’re situated. This globalization s__t is ruining the sport. Can’t there a a season…and an off-season? And maybe a pre-season when the boyz get into shape for the REAL races to come, starting with Milano-Sanremo? What was so wrong about the way it used to be?

    • Disagree. Unlike the other races that stemmed from “globalization” of the sport, this race is well followed – seems to me there is a great atmosphere and lots of fans.

      I wonder if Gerrans would agree that this race isn’t good preparation. 2012 wins TDU then MSR. 2014 wins TDU then LBL. I’d say this event holds its own with the Basque, Cataluyna and Romandie.

    • It should be like this:

      January – All Aussie events: Championships, TDU (mid Jan), then Herald Sun and Bayco

      February – Tour de San Luis, followed by early season classics

      Agreed, Aussie events have to coincide with their summer holidays, but organisers can’t get mad when top riders don’t go… it’s JANUARY!!! These guys have 6 months before their actual goals. Plus, if TDU is going to put in classic-style climbing stages, then of course top riders and sprinters will avoid it. They should have more pure sprinting stages so they’d get people coming for easy training.

      Then, why is Tour de San Luis timed exactly to conflict with TDU? That was UCI’s fault. Tour de San Luis should be moved at least so it doesn’t conflict with the World Tour Event.

      • I don’t know… maybe. I just looked it up, apparently summer holidays go from mid-December until the end of February. So, having a February date should work. UCI’s seen how popular Td San Luis’ gotten over the years so why did they double book it.

        Either way though, all of the complaints should be taken with a grain of sand (or ignored completely) because both the Tour Down Under and San Luis are really popular and were great tours!

      • Personally, I don’t particularly care about the World Tour (only Valverde cares who wins) and don’t that much mind what races are part of it – within reason (although I will always object to Paris-Tours, a true Classic, not being part of it whilst so many lesser races are).
        Nor do I think it matters that the TDU is a WT race: it doesn’t seem to adversely affect the riders, who can just pootle around if they want.
        Also, I think the TDU is up there with the Tour of Poland, etc. so have no problem with it being a WT race. (I can see an argument for knocking a few races out of the WT and making it more ‘special’, but I’ve no strong feelings on this.)
        As for globalisation, it’s not ruining the sport yet, but it might well in the future if inferior races are allowed to compete with current – much better – events, despite having a dreadful parcours and no local interest (e.g. most, if not all, of the races in the Middle East). Especially if these events are given higher status by the UCI.
        The Tour of Beijing is an example the UCI should have learned from, but Cookson seems only interested in money. (He was talking about the Tour of Turkey becoming a WT event recently.)
        Letting inferior races into the WT will devalue the quality of the whole thing. Somehow, like so many things, Cookson doesn’t get this. Still, if he manages to ostracise ASO, the WT will mean nothing anyway.

        • “Pootle around”..
          TDU might have been seen as an easy option a few years ago, and it still remains a chance to get ‘race legs’ in, but the peloton was averaging 50kph in parts. The speed was high.
          Fair dinkum to the Aussie riders / teams particularly I’d say – a podium place is far from a pootle.

          Excellent highlight shows too, 20 mins enjoyable viewing for us Europeans after work.
          I agree with Inner Ring’s description – “Canned racing” – but the can does contain good ingredients.

          • … can just pootle around *if they want* – many didn’t.
            For a pro, relatively speaking, it’s a lot easier to just ride along in the pack rather than trying to win a race.

      • TdU is just fine, as is Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, etc. But they ALL should be low-point training events for the punters to see the stars as they put in some kilometers in preparation for the REAL races that start with MSR. “Heinie’s Folly” aka globalization created the ridiculous World (Pro, etc.) Tour that jacked up the costs of running a team immensely, as well as creating cycling events in places where NOBODY local cares about cycling (the sandbox races and China for example) while letting traditional races in places with all kinds of fans rot from lack of funding. And the result is…the pathetic state of pro cycling at present where the team from OZ is still racing with a “your name here” instead of a secondary sponsor after how many years? Instead of me ranting about what’s wrong with globalization, can someone tell ME what was so awful about the sport before Verbruggen and Co. decided to fix it with their greedy globalization scheme?

        • Why are you so adamant that the season starts with MSR. Why is MSR a real race when T-A isn’t, despite the fact that T-A had some fantastic racing.

          • T-A’s fine, but it’s a warm-up race. Most of the non-grand tour stage races are – as in the best stage racers are not going for it 100%: they’re using them to build up form for the grand tours. This has changed a bit of late, but is still true of many riders.
            (T-A’s profile has gone up in the last few years as they’ve aimed the parcours at getting the GT riders there, but – like the other stage races – he who wins T-A doesn’t necessarily win a grand tour later in the season.)
            Similarly, these stage races are used by the classics riders as training.
            That’s what makes the true one day classics (and not just any race with ‘classic’ in the title – if you’re fooled by that, you’ll presumably be fooled by the ‘Tour de Yorkshire’) and the grand tours so special – the best protagonists are usually trying to win the races 100%.

          • The pro cycling season should have a beginning and end. Tradition has MSR as the start of the real races that the big stars care about winning and Lombardia at the end. I’m not saying that any races before (or after) these shouldn’t be raced, but simply that they shouldn’t carry points equal to the REAL races in the season. MLB has spring-training, football has “friendlies”, NFL has pre-season games. Nothing wrong with any of ’em until one starts trying to make ’em count as much as the REAL contests. That’s when you get WT points handed out in a race on the other side of the world in f__king JANUARY!…he typed while shaking his fist at the clouds ala TV’s Abe Simpson.

        • MSR’s nickname is La Classicissima Primavera which hints that is the opening race of the season… might have to change it to “La Classicissima Primavera, sort of” if it’s preceeded by 3 stage races, and 10 one-day races.

          However, it hasn’t been the real opening race for a long time, but I understand why traditional fans want it to be the first race!

          • “primavera” doesn’t really mean “first”, though. It means Spring. Isn’t “La Classicissima Primavera” better translated as “the biggest Classic of the Spring”?

          • Well, not that much. The name has nothing to do with being the “first race”. The races which have been traditionally considered as season openers are other ones, both in Italy and in other cycling countries. At least in the last 50 years, I’d name Laigueglia and then Donoratico in Italy, and quite obviously the “ouverture” (La Marseillaise), then Bessèges and finally the Méditerranéen in France- Unless when you say “season” you’re speaking in astronomical terms… 😉
            Besides, even if you’re hearing now more and more often “La Classicissima di Primavera”, since RCS itself is using it, it’s kind of a merger of two nicks, “La Classicissima” and “La classica/corsa di Primavera”, but this is just a detail.
            However, the nickname refers to the fact that the race was typically held around the Spring (“Primavera”) equinox because, when it moved from its original permanent date of 19th of March, it was decided it would be organised during the nearest weekend, which can’t obviously be too far from the 20th-21st of March. Hence, the idea is that it marks the start of Spring, also because when you climb over the Turchino or, even more so, go through the tunnel, you can experience a radical *climate change* from the winter which still lingers over the Pianura Padana (cold, continental, northern face of the mouintains) to the mild sun-kissed coast of Liguria.
            Still, it’s the first Monument and as such the first “true” race… which might make some people imagine a false etymology like “prima … vera … Classicissima”, “first … true …Very Classic”. But you shouldn’t forget that “di” (“of”) nor the order of the words!
            The fact of being the first Monument hasn’t changed and won’t change for a long time, since it takes quite a lot of time to create a *new* Monument, but – leaving this word puns apart – the Sanremo hasn’t ever been thought about as a sort of an opener, not at all. The distance itself requires that the riders have a good mileage in their legs before approaching it with some decent ambition. It was considered as the “Spring Worlds” as the “proper Worlds” are held in Autumn, and this element, too, may suggest it was no appetiser…

          • @Nick
            I was answering to DMC with my “not that much”… you’re quite right, indeed. I explain it better above. I’d translate “Classicissima” as “the most classic among the Classics” rather than “the biggest”, maybe because it remained quite loyal to its original course, with smaller changes when compared to other Classics, Monuments included.

          • I said the nickname HINTS that it is the opening race… i never said it meant “first race”. I know it doesn’t mean first race of the season.

            Besides, I was saying traditionalists want it to be the first race, i wasn’t saying I wanted it to be the first race.

            I like how we have the pre-season races to build up to the Monuments in March and April.

          • For me, it doesn’t even hint at. To make it clear, the “prima vera” joke I’ve been making before is only a word pun I just invented for fun. For example, the Classics, both on cobbles and on côtes are referred at as “classiche di primavera”, and nobody is hinting at the idea of all of them being “the first” or anything.

            Besides, the ironical definition “La Classicissima Primavera, sort of” you gave above doesn’t make sense if one doesn’t imply some (non existing) meaning about “being the first”. Certainly, nothing in the existence of previous races makes less exact – hence requiring the “sort of” clause – the fact that Sanremo is related to Spring or that it’s the “most classic among Classics”.

            We could ask Larry what *traditionalists* really want – I guess he knows 😛 – and I suspect those guys just consider that Sanremo *is* the first *important* race (which it would still be, even with more and more secundary races before it); at the same time, I’m pretty sure that traditionalists are happy with the existence of warm-up races like Ti-Ad and so, in fact they wouldn’t want Sanremo “to be the first”, they’re just happy while the other races don’t assume more relevance, which they’d brand as *excessive*. I’m quite sure Larry hasn’t anything against GP Ouverture La Marsaillaise or Laigueglia per se. Though, perhaps it’s better if he says what *traditionalists* think, if he feels like that, I really don’t know.

            PS From my POV, all this debate is fun for fun’s sake, no offence intended (just in case 😉 ).

          • Of course, no offence taken! I enjoy the bantering on this website and apologise when I take it too far.

            I really like having races throughout the year, especially when Cyclingnews does the live updates and I can follow it at my desk. I’m an accountant so these races often REALLY help to get through some boring files. I only wish that the stage races were more spaced out because it would’ve been great to have TDU last week, and then Tour de San Luis next week, or something.

            Anyways, I know they don’t schedule the races to suit me, but it would be nice.

      • Agreed that World Tour really doesn’t mean anything… it’s a weird, awkward and clumsy attempt by the UCI’s bureaucrats to put the sport into a marketing package. In reality, they should be hyping the Monuments and Grand Tours as one main package, and then every other event is secondary.

        By making a World Tour competition, it further complicates what cycling is. There are way too many things going on, and adding this WT element to it makes it even harder for the casual fan to follow.

  10. A very well produced race. The streaming heart rate and power data were very interesting to me, perhaps too geeky for some.

    As for the calendar conflict between the TDU and the TdSL, perhaps the Argentinian race could be moved to February?. The TDU has to stay in its current time slot because of Australian holidays that permit the mass spectation event that the race has become. The TdSL was lightly attended, as best I could tell.

    The main benefit would be that road cycling fans wouldn’t get woken up in January then suffer as mini slump in February. This matters little now, but will be more important if the TdSL gets better, more watchable TV production.

    Otherwise, the calendar conflict between the two races is no big deal. The local terrain means they are inherently different races, with the “queen climb” of Willunga Hill a mere foothill compared to the climbs in Argentina. Thus they attract different riders: classics racers to TDU, GC racers to TdSL. Quintana wouldn’t be competitive on any of the TDU stages, Gerrans would be packfill in the TdSL climbs. De-conflicting the schedule wouldn’t mean that the TdSL crowd turn up at the TDU, save perhaps a few extra sprinters.

  11. Any talk of a future mid-week classic between the TDU and Cadel Evans race? Seems like an opportunity on the schedule that could be filled by another day of racing…or maybe teams like the extra few days of training.

    • Not sure the demand is there from the public or, more importantly, sponsors.
      “Aussie month” starts with Bay Crits on Jan 1-4, Aus Road Nationals Jan 6-10, TDU Jan 17-24, Evans’ race Jan 30-31 (women then men), then Herald Sun Tour Feb 3-7. That takes us from Jan 1 to Feb 7.
      That’s a lot of racing in a few of areas – Adelaide, Ballarat and Melbourne/Geelong – in which cycling is popular but hardly really mainstream.
      I only listed one day of women’s cycling then, too, and the real issue is sponsorship and local government support for road closures – I suspect for quite a long time races cost money rather than make money, so I’d think Cadel’s race needs to settle in the calendar before anyone starts to think of adding another race.
      Mid week is hard, too. Australians aren’t “on holidays” in any real sense. It’s school holidays, so families can take annual leave to see the TDU or whatever. Roads are still packed with commuters then freight all January long on weekdays.

      • The women’s side is improving. Bay Crits are as hotly contested as the men’s, (With a similar level field) and women’s TDU was upgraded to 2.2 this year, with decent teams from Wiggle, Cylance, Orica, Hitec, and the best of the NRS teams. With the Tour of New Zealand in mid February (for the women, the men’s race, for whatever reason, clashes with the TDU), there’s a pretty good block of racing there.

        Increasingly, quite a few riders from Europe seem to like to come down and get in some sunny training kilometers (Valentina Scandalora and Nicholas Roche both come to mind, although Roche may be scared off by the spiders!)

        It’s nice to see it increasingly become a month of racing, rather than a week. Personally I’d like to see Bay Crits given a UCI rating, although I think there would be challenges with course restrictions there, for the same reason the Crit before TDU isn’t a part of the race.

  12. Ah the classic “When does the season start” debate!

    Is it with the WT level Tour Down Under? Is it the Belgian Opening Weekend (KBK and Omloop) at the end of Feb? Is it Paris-Nice? Is it the Tour? Is it earlier at the beginig of the UCI America, Africa or Oceanic Tour?

    For me it doesn’t ever stop. Thanks to Cyclo-Cross and Track, plus the late finishing road season, there’s maybe a couple of weeks where things are really quiet. I love the TDU, it’s a cracking event but it will never get a hugely important status whilst it’s in January and the next earliest big rider goals are not until March (with very little inbetween). Same for San Luis.
    Other events have moved dates to give themselves more importance and better attendences. It’s what these events need to do to really grow in stature. But neither is really struggling either.

    As for the actual race this year, Aussies in a strength not seen in a long time. The proof will be if Porte can contend in the GT’s, if Gerrans can contend in the Ardennes and if Ewan can contend in other big events. It’s all very well being strong now but it won’t suit their teams (well, it suits Orica).

    • Agreed, the Aussie’s being strong now is great for this race.

      Porte will have to be very careful how he builds now because there’s no point having form in January if your main events aren’t for months down the line.

  13. Porte seems to have learned nothing about tactics: he lost last year’s TDU by about a second, having waited too long to attack on Willunga Hill. This year: he waited till about 1.1k to attack – taking 9 seconds too few from Gerrans. (This was obvious enough last year.) Attack from 1k seems to be his only tactic.

    (Not to mention him being caught in 42nd place on Stage 4, behind a split in the peloton, which cost him 8 seconds – and he was the first rider of the split, so it wasn’t caused by someone else not keeping up.)

    He rides like an automaton, as so many do. I can see advantages of having radios – and have been ambivalent on these pages about their use in the past. But maybe it is time to get rid of them (except for essential info. from the organisers – and the ability of the rider to tell the team something). The riders will still get instructions from cars, but maybe – and it’s only a maybe – they’ll start thinking for themselves and riding with a bit more adventure.

        • Some have said that the time bonuses should be scrapped, but I think – in this race – they’re a good leveller. The GC-type riders can win if they take enough time on the more hilly bits, whilst a canny puncheur like Gerrans can build up the bonuses and try to hang on.
          Porte came second the last two years, because he failed to attack early enough on the most hilly stage – and, as you say, because he didn’t hold the wheel in front of him on Stage 4, which is tactical ineptitude for an experienced GC contender.

        • That doesn’t follow. More likely is that:
          * lead-out guy sits up,
          * gap opens,
          * people behind lead-out (holding the wheel) notice gap,
          * they go round, but
          * can’t close the gap before the line, so
          * lose time.

          • Possibly. Who knows? But if you’re an experienced rider you’d expect the lead-out guy to sit up.
            If you want to do well on GC – and I can’t see why Porte wouldn’t – you are responsible for making sure the gap doesn’t open in front of you.
            Also, Porte came in 42nd place. Again, if you’re a GC contender, you should be closer to the front – because we all know splits happen further back in the field.
            And as he was back in 42nd place, I doubt that the lead-out guy was the final lead-out guy.

        • Do you not think that maybe Porte had to come around and close down the gap that was open, meaning he was the next rider? He has been around a while and I think maybe knows how to finish a race without leaving large gaps. Maybe you guys know better.
          Porte mentioned plenty of times he was not racing for the win, he had a good day on Wilunga and a nice win.

          • Noel, we’re all armchair experts (with apologies to anyone on here who is a pro rider).
            The tactically astute make these kinds of mistakes less often – it’s racecraft.
            Gerrans won the race largely through his tactical superiority.
            Porte may have lost the race through tactical ineptitude.

          • As I say above:
            ‘Porte came in 42nd place. Again, if you’re a GC contender, you should be closer to the front – because we all know splits happen further back in the field.
            And as he was back in 42nd place, I doubt that the lead-out guy was the final lead-out guy.’

            I have no idea where the lead-out guy came, nor who he was.
            He’s not the important factor.
            The point remains that if you want to do well on GC, not only is it bad tactics to be in 42nd place on a stage, but you are also the one responsible for ensuring that you finish in that first group – not behind any split.
            Tactically aware riders know this – Cadel Evans, to give one example, was usually pretty good at ensuring he finished high-up on each stage.
            The point also remains that Porte should have attacked sooner on Willunga Hill, if he wanted to win the race (Mountain goat’s assumption above that he didn’t seems unlikely, at best – it’s his home race and he was 2nd – riders always say they’re not racing for the win; to take the pressure off).
            This was even more apparent because he’d done the same thing last year (and it was obvious on the climb that year as well – well before the stage was completed).
            Porte has the ability to attack further out than little over 1km to go. His climbing ability was his major advantage in the race – particularly over Gerrans – and he didn’t use it.

          • well, if Richie said he’s a little under-prepared for the race I’d reckon he’d be a pretty good judge of his own capabilities – he’s an experienced guy after all. Attacking from 2kms out sounds easy from the armchair, but would be a bit daft if he knows he probably blows with 750 to go and they swamp him.

          • No one is listening to J Evans, he’s bang on correct about Porte. No one is saying it is “easy” to close a gap, but the point is Porte (and the entire BMC squad) were WAY out of position on Stage 4. GC riders who are experienced say it is easier to ride in the sweet spot of the peloton (ie. in the top 25 places) with your entire team, rather than as pack fill (because your speed is constant, rather than continuing to yo-yo). Plus, the added benefit of riding up there is you don’t get caught out in splits.

            Porte and BMC made two mistakes:
            a) BMC’s entire team was behind Porte on this stage, and
            b) Porte was not in the sweet spot.

            The fact that Porte was the first one of the second group shows that he was likely working his tail off to catch the first group, so he was working hard, but wouldn’t have had to work as hard if he was tucked into the lead pack surrounded by his team.

            Porte says he doesn’t care if he wins this race, but a bit of smart GC riding and he would have won it without much extra effort, and maybe less effort because sweet spot riding is easier.

          • I pretty sure Porte doesn’t much care if he wins the TDU or not. Sure, he’d take the win if it came but its not a season goal to do so. It wouldn’t mean much if he did either. He has MUCH bigger targets than this race.

          • True dat, Ron

            Notwithstanding future goals, he still mirrored his result last year, which he followed up with a storming early season, then a collapse at the Giro. So I aint holding my breath.

          • Sam:
            ‘^and you said there was no one in front of Porte
            But there was
            Good to have facts straight’
            What I said about Porte was: ‘he was the first rider of the split’.
            It is ‘good to have facts straight’ – and handy to have what I actually said above, rather than what you erroneously claim I said.
            Porte was the first rider to finish behind the split.
            If he wanted to win the overall, he should have been riding further up and he has the responsibility to close the gap – because he is the one who it matters to.
            You’re not providing any arguments against my points here; just sniping without success.

            Noel: I think Porte would have been better off attacking a bit sooner and perhaps coming first – worth the risk, I’d say, but maybe he disagrees. Was it because he couldn’t have managed an extra 500m of attacking or was it a lack of tactical bravery? Don’t know. But I’d suspect that by attacking earlier he would have put the time into Gerrans.
            RonDe: No idea if Porte cares about the TDU or not – but it’s his home race and he cared enough to come very close to winning it.
            DMC: What you said.

          • Sam, you didn’t pick me up – as I’ve shown.
            Some here have disagreed with me – and, unlike you, they’ve actually had cogent points to make – only you’ve been snidey about it.
            But that’s your choice – and one you consistently make.

          • Just to add, and this doesn’t help the argument over Portes tactical abilities, but according to both riders and the team, Porte was riding for Dennis at that stage. It wasn’t until stage 5 when Dennis said he didn’t feel great that Porte took over as leader.

  14. If the World Tour is truly a World Tour it has to be less Europe-centred, and that means racing at times of the year that suits other continents including during the European winter. Sooner or later there will have to be a World Tour race in Africa, which again would want it in the European winter.

    • That’s fine, but as long as the Classics are in the European spring and the Grand Tours in the summer no big names are going to want to be in peak condition in January. I’m sure they’d take the win if they could get it, but they aren’t going to base their season on it. I’ve no problem with the TDU, its a sunny season opener with decent crowds that gives the Aussies something to do with their summer form!

  15. The TDU’s position in the calendar is a blessing and a curse: big, non-Australian names are never going to be competing for it, because then you peak too soon (as San Luis shows – they’re there, but they’re doing nothing); but if it was in the middle of the ‘regular’ season I think non-Australian fans/viewers would be a lot less interested (and the big names probably still wouldn’t show up): never seems a very interesting race to me with, as you say, just a quick burst of action at the end of each stage.

  16. So… You could pay teams to send Sagan, Cav et al to come and just soft pedal for a week. Or, if the TDU does find an extra €0.5m then why don’t they just shove it all into prize money. This will encourage cash strapped teams to send their best riders with both WT points and cold hard cash on the line.

    Perhaps they could spice up the race regarding stages, but Willunga, Stirling and the street circuit are top notch spectator events. Perhaps 3 times up Willunga?

    Also, revamping the “classic” race into a genuine 1.1 would tour event would add to the festival and encourage tourists to stay that bit longer.

    Finally, I found the tv coverage superb, despite loads of advertisements. As a cycling fan for quite a few years, the insightfulness of the commentary and the mixed travelogue moments while the Peleton was playing chess with the breakaway was great. Far more entertaining than an endless array of chateaux.

    • It was fronted by Paul Sherwen and Phil “I made Lance what he is today” Liggett. Instantly reaching for the mute button on my remote. Those guys sicken me.

      • Liggett is much worse than Sherwan (IMO, at least). Sherwan is a bit better when paired with someone else. But Liggett is absolutely dreadful and should have been pensioned off a long time ago

  17. Every year I read the same stuff about TDU versus TdSL.
    I feel sorry for all of you eurocentric guys but the fact is: A race from a middle income country far away from your home is much better than your “made for aussie only” TDU.
    Poor TV coverage? that is right but it would be better.
    Both Quintana in the podium is a bit of joke ?
    Concerning argentinian riders, wait and see Paris-Nice. Not only Sepulveda but now also Dani Diaz.
    See you next year

    • Esteban, don‘t get too upset by the views some people have. I find them highly offensive too, but I don’t take them serious, because I can see what drives those views. I wondered, why Gabriele (for example) even wasted words in a discussion, when a real discussion so clearly isn’t possible. Just one thing: In Europe, if anything, many are much more interested in the TSL (as am I). But aside from anything I have to say: to call a rider “rubbish” and a race “a joke” is really not funny at all.

      • ‘Highly offensive’? If you’re offended by people thinking that a race is not as good as you think it is, you must be offended almost permanently.
        TdSL had a better line-up of riders, but as can be seen by the GC, they weren’t actually competing – unless you think Dayer is better than his brother, Nibali and Majka.
        It’s a comparatively low-level race, which pays ‘stars’ to appear.
        I don’t see that view as ‘Eurocentric’, principally because the TDU isn’t a European race.
        ‘Rubbish’ was lazy shorthand – it was just in response to the two Quintanas on the podium point: surely no-one believes that Nairo was trying to beat Dayer.
        I didn’t call the race ‘a joke’; I called the TV coverage a joke.

      • People who are offended almost always take the ‘I’m offended, therefore I’m right’ stance (whilst disregarding the offence that others have taken – for example, others were offended by what Gabriele said – but you’ve decided they were wrong.).
        Those who are claiming to be offended on others’ behalf do so in an attempt to feel like a better person. Offence is nothing to do with the comment – it’s *your* reaction.
        (You might find Donald Trump offensive; others think he’s speaking for the people. What he says is not offensive, per se – any more than my opinion that he is a bigot and an imbecile is offensive to him.)

    • maybe Cannondale have a better year this year now they have shaken off the old guard and have a few potentially good young guns (and I guess Woods doesn’t count as young at 29)… interesting to see if Moser can get it back together too

      • Yeah, will be really interesting to see if they can contend this year. A shakeup hopefully is what they needed.

        Great to see a fellow Canadian (Michael Woods) having a great first World Tour race.

      • It’s not so much they lost the old guard, but they were laboured in 2015 with the leavings of the Cannonade team which was pretty much the Sagan and Viviani show, and they were snapped up. As Vaughters admitted they just had to take riders rather than sculpting their hires around what they needed for a well rounded roster.

        I’m really looking forward to seeing what Bevin, Wippert and Woods especially can do, and also maybe now he’s on a team that has had grand tour success in the past, Uran can win one.

  18. Indeed, Robbie McEwen is simply an extraordinary commentator. Knows what is going down before it’s generally observed. Serious peloton smarts in the commentary box.

  19. Simply put, the TDU was a credit to the WT idea.
    Good competitive racing, great crowds, excellent tv coverage and commentating with interesting use of technology that added something.
    What’s not to like!?

    A most enjoyable opening to the season that set a high benchmark for others to follow..

    • Whats not to like is that all the stages are relatively tame. Willunga Hill is the best they can do but its only 3.6kms long and they don’t even race it until the last KM. So may find this marvelous but I’ll stick with thinking it tame.

      • There are some far more substantial climbs in Adelaide (ok, they’re still not mountains, but there are various 7-10km options), the race could quite easily entice GC guys if they decided to, even just by turning left at the top of the corkscrew instead of right.

        I still dream of Froome and Quintana racing up Greenhill Road.

        • Having just been in Adelaide for the TDU and ridden all over the place I’m even more confounded as to why they won’t change the course, or at least inject a little more year to year variety.

          There’s no shortage of longer and/or tougher climbs in the Adelaide hills and it wouldn’t be difficult to create a more selective course.

        • I suspect you might have to wait a long time for Quintana, at least, however much they might change the course. Argentina is just too convenient for him to start his season straight out of altitude training at home in Colombia.

  20. IMO, every one of the previous posts has some truth.

    Lets not forget that these early non-euro UCI “classic” races are important for the simple fact that they give the opportunity for young or lesser riders to show themselves on an international stage with very good riders in various stages of fitness. They will not be given the same chance in European races which will demand they serve as water-carriers for their team.
    We should be enjoying the culture and diversity of racing in these less cyclocentric venues. Yeah, they maybe a bit tilted toward the local racers. I for one enjoy the simple fact that we may see the next Quintana or Evans in his own backyard.

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