Phil's Blog

Phil regularly posts here with his opinion on current races, cycling politics, and updates from the ground at Le Tour de France, La Vuelta a Espana, and other major races.

Tour down Under - Ride first Race second.

Posted on: Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It was hot in Adelaide yesterday and while we were still on bushfire alert at home things have settled.

Our ride started at the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. Not exactly a blistering pace in the heat but a nice ride out to the course with our final 10km on the course proper. With only 30 minutes to spare to get a refreshing ale and wait for the race to hit town it was a really nice reminder that we were in Australia, not France. The ASO are pretty brutal with road closures.

We’d planned to settling for lunch and watch stage 1 pass 8 times through Williamstown, before the 7km sprint to the finish town of Lyndoch.

Williamstown celebrated the TdU with a carnival atmosphere.
At Bar 41 there was a line out the door however they were well prepared, super gourmet food and staff to cope. 95% of clientele were in lycra, the mood was upbeat, the ale cold.

Each time the cavalcade passed the mamil mass moved in unison to the door, the bar staff moved with them and served food outside. Except for the exceptional service, we could have been in a village in France.

In France many of the villages simply close for the day when Le tour comes to town.

The SA moto cops working the corner approached for a chat, he used to race as a junior and loved working the event. Great crowd without the dark undertones of the cricket or auto racing. The great thing about cycling out to the race each day, you are far too tired to get wasted.

I met Sean Lake by chance over the summer in Apollo Bay. We had been evacuated, he was holidaying close by. Pretty new to cycling having moved across from rowing he looks a strong kid and showed it today. He seems to have a big motor, lots of determination and with 2 consecutive wins in the Grafton to Inverell Classic before a bronze in the National time trials - this kid is a talent to be watched and he is sitting in one of the best teams in Australia for talent development.

With the number of blue ribbon sprinters at the event pretty thin on the ground, Caleb Ewe’s star is shining and he continues to impress. He is being nurtured and the TdU would suit him. Short stages, no real mountains ( a few nasty hills I guess) and an opportunity to put the OGE brand out in front from day 1.

OGE are sitting tight, Gerro protected and Mathews missing! OGE needs a win on home soil and haven’t wasted any resources yet, other than to keep it tidy for Caleb. None of the other teams are wasting time or effort either and interestingly they are not focusing on sprint wins.

UNI SA a moniker team for unrecognised Aussie talent have one game plan, get noticed.

The numbers are being crunched by the teams and there will be a ½ second in it and all the teams want the points especially the likes of Drapac. 

The race is ticking along - a bit boringly predictable with not much in it and there never is, but the psychology of the race is interesting. The teams that are here aren’t Grand tour teams, they are well represented and full of efficient riders, like Gerro and they are all here to steal a win. The silence is deafening, strategies tight.

Today another Aussie pro took the win - this time for Tinkoff, well done Jay McCarthy.

Many years ago I was consulted by Gov SA, I had not long retired. They wanted to create an event, a bike race. In January, an interesting time of year for a pro. The stages were deliberately kept short, the riders would not be that fit after the off season.

Events SA, times have changed along with the world tour. Time for a course shake up I would have thought but hey!

Written by
Photos:  Graham Watson and Phil Anderson