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879 kilometres of racing across 73 South Australian towns incorporating 20 events over 9 days all based from a massive Cycling Village in the centre of town is the ultimate festival of cycling, and the Tour Down Under (TDU) returns to Adelaide for the 19th successive January.
From early January cyclists from around the globe arrive in Adelaide and commence their summer training and orientation on Adelaide's roads, before putting on their lycra in earnest from the 14th January with the ultimate view of becoming the 2017 TDU Champion.
The opening day of the festival, sees Victoria Square become a sea of lycra as the teams are presented to the huge crowd by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin, followed by a free family concert for everyone.
However for those wanting to catch some cycling action, the 4 day Santos Womens Tour kicks off at lunchtime, or for those looking for something a bit more lavish, then the silver service dinner at Love Velo Seaside on Port Willunga Beach is an event not to be missed.
Sundays are family day at the TDU and everyone gets to join in. For amateur hill climb specialists, the Norton Summit time trial returns again, with a time of 12 minutes looking to be the one to beat. While for those who travel at a slightly slower pace, the family ride around the circuit in Adelaide's East End is always good fun.
And then in the early evening, the cycling action begins with the Women's Tour on the circuit before the men's race at 715pm for an hour of frantic racing, breakaways, tactics and a big bunch sprint finish where Slovak superstar Peter Sagan will be looking to start his 2017 campaign with a win.
On Monday, the women return again for their third stage while down at Unley Road, the Unley Gourmet Gala Festival will see the road closed from 4pm onwards for the hosting of the food, wine and fashion festival of the south.
Stage One kicks off from Unley and heads through the City, One Tree Hill, Kersbrook and Williamstown before doing three laps around Lyndoch where locals are encouraging visitors to spend the day between Forest to Vines, and to enjoy many of the local cafes, wineries, cellar doors and other attractions.
Best viewing spot along the route today is atop Kersbrook Hill, while any of the spots around the Lyndoch loops will have plenty of shade. Best local attractions include the Whispering Wall and the Lyndoch Lavender Farm, while it is difficult to go past the Baker Boys at Williamstown, or The Table Cafe in Lyndoch for food. And for cellar doors, my two personal favourites are Kersbrook Hill and Linfield Road, both small but both punching above their weight.
Wednesday is the first of the Ladies Days where a sumptuous lunch, fashion, glamour and entertainment is on offer to all those ladies who prefer spectating in style. And where better to do this than at Stirling where Stage Two sees cyclists ride five laps around Stirling before heading north along the ranges and ultimately along Gorge Road to the finish at the top of Torrens Hill Road at Paracombe.
Anywhere around the Stirling loop is bound to have great views of the cyclists as they pass by, while the ascent of the tight Gorge Road up to the Reservoir could see some surprises. Attractions enroute are many, and include numerous bakeries and cafes throughout the Aldgate-Stirling-Mylor region and several wineries through Ashton and the Adelaide Hills ranges. At the conclusion of racing, then it is time to head to Glenelg for the Glenelg Tour Street Party.
Thursday 19 January
Stage Three sees riders leave Glenelg and head south through McLaren Vale, Sellicks Hills and Myponga before completing four loops around the favourite seaside town of Victor Harbor.
The King of the Mountain at Sellicks Hill looks like an ideal viewing spot but could anything beat being on the seaside at Victor Harbor as they ride past four times. The City of Victor Harbor are facilitating a number of markets, art shows and family fun activities which are bound to be key attractors, as are the numerous eateries in and around Victor. At the end of the day, the riders return to Victoria Square, and its time for the spectators to head to the Parade for the Norwood on Tour Street Party.
Friday 20 January
Friday sees the People's Ride, who start 5 hours earlier and follow the same course as the professionals from Norwood to Campbelltown via Tea Tree Gully, Mt Pleasant, Springton and Lobethal. Over 6,000 amateurs are expected, many on their own but some also alongside the legendary Jens Voigt, all with a goal of reaching the end before the professionals get there.
Great viewing spots will be in any of the Adelaide Hills' towns while the amateur cyclist's favourite, The Cudlee Cafe, is sure to pack out early. The City of Campbelltown will be hosting a family fun day all day at the finish line of the stage.
Saturday 21 January
The fifth stage takes riders from the sea to the vines, with a couple of doses of Willunga Hill. One of the most popular stages on the tour for both riders and spectators, the beauty of the McLaren Vale region and southern beaches are there for all to see and enjoy.
Willunga Hill is a favourite viewing spot, but be early as many sites will be taken quickly, unless of course you participate in the Ladies Day events and get spoilt in an exclusive viewing box ! Alternatively Snapper Point, and the range of family activities occurring, provides a good day's entertainment.
The final night sees the annual Legends Dinner where Peter Sagan will entertain the crowd with his life story to date.
Sunday 22 January
The final stage of the TDU returns to the City with 20 laps around some of Adelaide's premier icons. The family day in Elder Park, and the mini-tour ride for kids will keep everyone busy and active both before and after the race.