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The Santos Tour Down Under: the racy side of SA:

The largest bike race in the southern hemisphere starts here.

It pays to be in South Australia in January each year. A visitor, if you’re lucky. A local, if you’re fortuitous.

But at the very least, be a spectator of the largest cycling race in the southern hemisphere, and one of the world’s most iconic sporting events in history.

Adelaide, and its remarkable surrounding metropolis plays host to the primary event of the international cycling calendar – the Santos Tour Down Under (TDU).

For ten days, locals welcome the arrival of a 200-strong peloton of elite international athletes to compete in a three-staged road race and criterium throughout three key regions.

It is a sport of grit and grace in equal measure.

Known for the diversity of track, technicality, and tenure, the Santos TDU is also synonymous with the backdrop of lolling hills, rugged coastlines and vineyards.

Of course, these surroundings incite peripheral activities and a cycling culture.

Adelaide Hills and Barossa regions become alive with an almost folk-festival of spectators who converge from across the globe – a mix of all accents and languages as they drink and eat in the myriad of cellar doors.

As the peloton weaves up the Fleurieu Peninsula, south coast cafes become scenic vantage points to watch the race, including the iconic steep climb up Willunga Hill.

And in more recent years, the Adelaide city-centre is host to a younger cycling community with an appetite for the fast-paced criterium and entertainment the Cycling Village offers.

If you’re unfamiliar with the event – you’re forgiven. Next to the (rightfully) boastful flamboyance of festivals and sporting events like the Clipsal 500 or Cricket test matches, it’s a mild-mannered yet utterly thrilling celebration of cycling, strategy and scenes.

TDU was first staged in 1999 won by Adelaide local Stuart O’Grady – who is now the Men’s Race Director, who custom designs the road races each season.

But it wasn’t until the bounds of the European borders of elite cycling finally fell in 2008, as the Santos TDU joined the prestigious Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) WorldTour program – the Michelin grade of the cycling world, and the only country outside of the EU to achieve this.

By 2012, the event hosted the first series of women’s road race, which was upgraded to UCI status in 2018, and last year extended the paracycling program.

Since then, the world’s best cycling athletes and olympians like Oscar Pereiro, Andy Schleck, Alberto Contado have competed against Australian champions Simon Gerrans, Stuart O’Grady, Robbie McEwen, Cadel Evans and Allan Davis.

The Santos TDU knows it’s onto a good thing. It shows the world what we’ve got, but shares its secrets with the locals.

The 2023 Santos TDU event will be held from 13–22 January.

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It is the details that make for an interesting read and we want to keep the Curious amongst us coming back for more!

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