It’s pretty easy to find issues with the world of professional cycling, from questionable relationships between riders and team doctors, to eccentric/down right crazy team owners. Indeed it has become common practice for the social rider, even the one who dabbles in racing, to turn their back on what should be the pinnacle of our sport. But every now and then, behind the corporate banners, controversy and ever expanding convoy, a little gem appears that links this machine to us, the riders.
The Tour Down Under may have started as an opportunity for the South Australian tourist board to show images of blue sky and crystal water to our freezing northern hemisphere buddies (a job it still does mighty well), but it has morphed into a unique shared riding and lifestyle week where the professional peloton coexist alongside club riders, social riders, ambitious domestic racers, and, dare I say it, the much maligned yet just as welcome MAMIL.
The key term here is ‘shared’. Mike Tuter and his Tour Down Under team have excelled, turning the week into something unique in the sport. It is not just ‘another pro race’, nor is it another one of the myriad of ‘sportive’ style weeks. The TDU seems to recognize that the modern road cyclist is a little bit of everything, we love to dip in and out of the pro scene, but our primary love is the bike and it is on the bike we want to spend our time.
Having previously made the haul to follow the odd Grand Tour, the lasting memory has always been one of logistics; Highway motels, B&Bs, caravan parks, that exit we should have taken 10km back, why is it so hard to watch this race … and the bike, I brought it all this way but all I do is pack it up and move it to the next place.
Not in Adelaide, not this week. Our accommodation is sorted (one call), flights, or should I say flight, is booked, and our bikes … they will not have seen anything like the kilometers that are about to hit them.
You may already be a TDU convert, or maybe your experience is very different to ours, but throughout this week we are going to give you a glimpse into our ‘shared riding experience’. An experience that is quite special and quite unique, not just for cycling, but for all sports.
Welcome to Adelaide.