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The complete guide to SA's premier cycling event
Celebrating its 15th year in 2016, the Santos Tour Down Under is back with new routes, great climbs, some dare-devil sprints and a return of Victor Harbor as the finish line for the popular People's Ride.
Opening Ceremony (Sat 16 January)
After a week or two of acclimatising to the roads, the riders are officially welcomed to Adelaide by Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwin at the Opening Ceremony in Victoria Square. Live music and food is available on this relaxed late afternoon event.
Down Under Classic (Sun 17 January)
Starting proceedings for the riders is the Down Under Classic, a 30 lap circuit around the East Parklands. Although no points are earned by riders as part of the Tour, this popular twilight event attracts a huge crowd as they see riders seek to claim initial bragging rights as the fastest rider around Adelaide. With many nearby restaurants and cafes, this is a perfect night's entertainment for the whole family.
It is rest day for the riders, but it is the start of suburban and regional activities with the Tourrific Fair at Prospect. Prospect Road will be closed from late afternoon and will be swamped by local food vendors, live music and kids events all based around the cycling theme.
The first stage takes riders from Prospect through the 2015 bushfire ravaged areas of Chain of Ponds, Kersbrook and Williamstown before doing 3 laps of a circuit around Lyndoch. Featuring an early King of Mountain at Lower Hermitage and a largely flat stage, this race will be one where the sprinters will prevail with some fast laps around Lyndoch being expected.
At the end of the day, the Unley Gourmet Gala Fair in King William Road is always a favourite amongst locals and visitors alike.
Stage Two (Wed 20 January)
Stage Two is all about parties with riders heading from Unley up in to the Hills to experience 5 laps of the 20km circuit around Stirling. But prior to getting to Stirling, riders need to negotiate a new King of the Mountain at Carey Gully. It is certainly not the longest hill in the Adelaide Hills, but it is steep so riders will be searching for those lower gears.
Best spots for viewing include the start line (why not get there early and have breakfast on King William Road), on Rangeview Road, or at almost any of the spots around the Stirling Circuit including the gardens in Stirling where a popup market has many treats.
Departing from the seaside, the riders head along the Southern Expressway and then take a long circuitous route through the Adelaide Hills and Onkaparinga Valley before tackling the much maligned Corkscrew Road, and then sprinting the final 6km to Campbelltown at speeds of up to 80kmh. Corkscrew Road and the final sprint are crowd favourites and they have returned again to give the hill climbers a chance at overall victory.
The best viewing spots along this route are Corkscrew Road as the rider's legs scream in pain during the climb, while the feed station at Mylor should provide photographers with some great photo opportunities. Once past the expressway, stage three is lined with cafes and bakeries especially through Stirling, Aldgate, Hahndorf and all the towns of the Onkaparinga Valley.
Stage Four (Fri 22 January)
Friday's stage coincides with the People's Ride, where around 6,000 riders depart some 5 hours earlier than the professionals in an effort to get to the end before them. For the first time ever riders will head up Adelaide's iconic Norton Summit Road before heading along the Hills Ranges and descending in to Strathalbyn. A fast sprint from Strathalbyn will be arrested by a climb up the King of the Mountain on Crows Nest Road just prior to the finish in Victor Harbor.
The Parade at Norwood will be the place to be before the race, with big crowds expected from 6am onwards, and many of the cafes hosting Tour breakfast parties. After this, the two best spots to catch some of the action are on the two hills of Norton Summit and Crows Nest Road. While riders won't be riding directly past, the Port Elliot Bakery looks to be the pick of the food establishments for today – but be warned, there will be queues outside !
The Queen stage of the Tour takes riders around the South Coast beaches, the McLaren Vale wineries and for two trips up everybody's favourite hill, Old Willunga. For riders, with five days of riding already in the legs, this stage offers an enormous tease as they pass some of the best beaches on the Adelaide coast, and some of the more well known cellar doors throughout Australia, before their only benefit is riding twice up Willunga Hill.
The final day sees riders take on 20 laps of an extended criterium through the Parklands and King William Street. With the Tour Leader trying to protect his lead, other teams seek to try out some new and aggressive tactics in a late grasp attempt to get that first Tour trophy of the season.
And with the conclusion of the last race the party continues for the remainder of the Sunday in the City and Victoria Square.