A world-class festival of fun, food, fierce competition, cycling and the best of South Australia on show is the Santos Tour Down Under.
BY ANNA MEROLA
Imagine nine days filled with great fun, amazing food and plenty of frivolity - some of which include dressing up in costume and running up a hill; fierce competition among world-class athletes, the chance to rub shoulders with cyclists who have Tour de France wins to their names and the best of South Australia on show.
Welcome to the Santos Tour Down Under.
What started in 1999 as a cycling event has since grown into one of South Australia’s biggest and best events and festivals. Not just a sports festival, but a festival celebrating the best the state has to offer and showcasing this to the world.
A free concert and street parties, gala dinners, free access to the Adelaide City Council Tour Village, set up in the heart of the city, and the chance to watch the six-stage road cycling race as it travels more than 781 kilometres through 62 towns from Adelaide to the Hills, Barossa to the Fleurieu Peninsula. All of this combined makes for an amazing atmosphere for the riders, visitors and locals alike.
Victoria Square in the heart of Adelaide comes alive with all the fun of the Santos Tour Down Under.
For the riders themselves - many of whom have tackled the Tour de France – the Santos Tour Down Under is the first official event on the international cycling calendar.
It’s now the biggest cycling race in the southern hemisphere and has attracted the elite of world cycling such as Cadel Evans, Marcel Kittel, Andy Schleck and Andre Greipel. In 2008 the event became the first race outside cycling’s traditional home of Europe to join the prestigious UCI WorldTour. The cyclists are not just coming to race Down Under for fun, like they perhaps once were. They’re here to win.
In 2016, joining the riders again will be the international voices of cycling, Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen, who not only call the race as it is broadcast around the world, but love getting to know their own legion of fans. Liggett often has his very own ‘peloton’ joining him on his daily morning rides through the suburbs during the race week.
And that’s the beauty of the Santos Tour Down Under – the accessibility to the big names of cycling, all based at the Hilton Adelaide, who fans can meet and greet daily at the Adelaide City Council Tour Village.
Considered the heart and soul of the event, the Tour Village has become a gathering spot for cycling fans, an after-work meeting place and a venue to catch up on the day's racing. Watch interviews with cycling stars, grab an autograph and pick up your official event merchandise. Enjoy a daily entertainment program with music and all things cycling, watch the team mechanics at work, relive the action of the day’s racing on the big screens, test ride the newest-model bikes, check out the latest in cycling gear and get inspired to equip yourself like the pros at the largest Bike Expo in Australia.
Amateur cyclists can also get involved in the Santos Tour Down Under with the Subaru Breakaway Series, which gives people the chance to ride part of the WorldTour race route. Santos Tour Down Under ambassador and cycling legend Jens Voigt will be taking his own team of amateurs the full distance, from Norwood to Victor Harbor, with his Shut Up Down Under team - the name has been taken from Jens’ famous mantra, “Shut Up Legs!”)
For families, there's no shortage of events and activities from Family Day on the final Sunday of the race and the Bupa mini tour for kids on the Be Safe Be Seen MAC Stage 6 circuit.
Other highlights of the week include the Santos Women's Cup which is a UCI sanctioned event, Club Tour, Ladies Day, street parties hosted by various local councils and the Legends' Night Dinner featuring Italian cycling legend Paolo Bettini.
For all the information you need about the Santos Tour Down Under, and how you too can ride in the Bupa Challenge Tour, visit Santos Tour Down Under