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The ultimate guide to Stage Five of the Tour Down Under
The Queen Stage of the Tour Down Under occurs in and around the McLaren Vale region and encompasses three trips along the beautiful Esplanades around Aldinga followed by a couple of trips up Old Willunga Hill Road before a hilltop finish on the top of Willunga Hill.
To help everybody through the TDU, and in particular the spectators, visitors, riders, cyclists, foodies and anyone in between, this guide to surviving this stage of the Santos Tour Down Under is offered.
If a beach view has more of an interest to you, then it is hard to go past the Star of Greece or the local Aldinga Beach fish and chip shop. With exceptional water views, and cyclists heading past three times, you have the best of all worlds.
The Race for Spectators
Stage Five, on a Saturday, draws the largest crowd for any non-City based event due to the great views of sea, hills, country, vines and riders as they pass through.
Some of the best vantage spots for views of riders are :
Anywhere along the Esplanade at Aldinga, including sprint line near Snapper Point
Main Street of McLaren Vale
Main road on way to Willunga near the drinks station (chance to grab some discarded water bottles)
Willunga township as riders pass through 5 times
Anywhere along Willunga Hill as riders seek to conquer this iconic climb
Before The Race
The Love Velo Seaside Dinner on Port Willunga Beach occurs on the Friday night before Stage Five. South Australia's longest silver service dining table hosts up to 500 guests who will enjoy a three course, drinks, jazz and magical sunset.
And on the morning of the Stage the whole town of McLaren Vale comes to a standstill as the town looks to emulate its 2014 feat of being named Santos Best Dressed Town. The best commercial property, in its first year was the Golden Fleece Café at Willunga where the café chose to showcase Australian-made bikes for sale as well as decorating the bike wheels in the town's colours. The best private residence was won by Stefan Horlund of McLaren Vale, who presented a "Santa's Tour Down Under" theme. So get yourself to McLaren Vale early and take a tour of the town as it gets in to TDU party mode.
For cyclists coming from Adelaide, it is possible to get to McLaren Vale and Willunga with very limited road travel. From O'Halloran Hill travel on the Patrick Jonker Veloway to Old Noarlunga, and then join the Coast to Vines Rail Trail to take you through McLaren Vale and then the Shiraz Trail to Willunga.
And when you have finished shopping, it is time to get the black tie out and head down to the Convention Centre for the Legends Dinner. A full three course meal, beverages, music and the dulcet tones of Phil Liggett and Mike Sherwin await all attendees. Tickets, at $250 per head, are usually snapped up quickly for this event which features a number of TDU riders, with an interview of the first American winner of the Tour De France, the legendary Greg LeMond. It will be a night not to miss.