The Santos Tour Down Under sees the some of the world's top local and international road cyclists start their 2014 season in a week long competition in the areas surrounding Adelaide, South Australia. They will compete over 7 stages with the winner taking home the decidedly Australian Ochre Jersey. The Santos Tour Down Under starts on Sunday the 19th of January and finishes on Sunday the 26th of January, Australia Day.
This year the Santos Tour Down Under kicks off with the People's Choice Classic, a road circuit taking in the streets north of Adelaide's CBD on Sunday evening. This will be a great opportunity to see the riders as they will make 25 laps of the circuit.
The Tour Down Under has slowly grown and is now a part of many international riders training program for the European summer racing season ahead. A major drawcard for this year's event is the chance to see Australia's only winner of the Tour de France, Cadel Evans compete with his BMC team.
One of the main complaints about road cycling is that as a spectator there is not much to see. Riders whiz by in a blur. The team and tactical elements of road cycling are best watched and dissected while watching the television coverage. But road race cycling is one of the few international sporting events that can be watched by the general public for free.
For this reason, when deciding which stages will get your attention it can be best to focus on the ones that offer multiple laps rather than a race day that is point to point. Both stages in the city of Adelaide are held over a short circular loop offering plenty of opportunity to see the riders.
Another deciding factor could be an excuse to visit a new town or area. The Tour Down Under will be passing through the Barossa (Stage 1) and McLaren Vale (stage 5) wine regions. Stages 2 and 3 will take in the Adelaide Hills, a popular day trip from Adelaide. Stage 4 will see riders journey to the Fleurieu Peninsular, a popular holiday spot for South Australians.
Many of the towns visited by the Tour Down Under are tourist destinations all year round but many hold special events to coincide with the tour including street stalls and luncheons.
The Best Dressed Town is a fiercely fought competition with towns visited by the tour decorated in cycling themed paraphernalia. The Tour Down Under is the perfect time to see Adelaide and the small towns South Australia at their best.