The Santos Tour Down Under, Orica-GreenEDGE rider Simon Gerrans, 4th time event winner of this race, took one of the most prestigious & talked about races in the Southern Hemisphere on The 24th January.
Each stage tests the strengths of riders across different terrain. To face the challenge, it suits well-rounded teams from both sprinters to climbers for synergy and balance ranging from 90-150km rides. With international renowned cyclists coming from all faces of the world to compete, in its seventieth year, this is South Australia’s largest event on the calendar year. It has had the likes of Cadel Evans, Marcel Kittel, Andy Schleck and Andre Greipel compete.
We had some of our own competing and following the stages of the tour, and here is some insight from the saddle.
Koen de Kort (Jaggad Ambassador, Cyclist for Giant Alpecin)
From your perspective, how is the TDU viewed with the pro peloton- do they enjoy coming to Adelaide to race?
The TDU is considered as a great race with amazing atmosphere by pretty much everyone in the bunch. It is obviously a long way to travel for most of the riders in the peloton but the race is a very good preparation for the season and the atmosphere and fans on the road is only rivalled by the biggest races in Europe. I haven’t ever heard a rider speak bad about Australian fans and they make the TDU special. Adelaide is a great city itself, as well with the perfect combination between a city and early season distractions and one of the best areas to ride a bike with the flat roads near the coast and the Adelaide hills so close to the CBD.
What is your pre-race routine?
Very often the races start very fast until a breakaway is established so it is important to eat enough to be able to have the energy to get through the entire stage but also to eat at least 3 hours before the race so the food is digested as well. Riding very fast with a full stomach is not a good idea therefore, I usually get up 4 hours before the start and head to breakfast where I eat enough carbs, sometimes cereal and other times pasta or rice. After breakfast I go back to my hotel room and get my stuff ready for the day of racing which includes cleaning my shoes and helmet and pinning on my number. Arriving at the start line I get all my food for the race together and turn on my race radio and I should be good to go.
For this race you were the sprinter in team, what are your thoughts/ what do you enjoy most about virtually having your team working hard for you to get you across the line as quickly as possible?
It was a lot of fun to be the sprinter of the team again. I have really specialised in helping a teammate sprint and it takes a different set of skills to put a sprinter in winning position at 200m to go to the finish line than it is to sprint yourself, and it was great for me to see that perspective again. It pushes me to work on some other skills and it gives me insight again in what it´s like for the sprinter when I get back to my usual job of helping a teammate win. On top of that it´s also a great adrenaline kick to be there locking elbows with other riders at over 60kmh.
What was the hardest thing to overcome throughout the TDU?
In the morning before the last stage we heard that our teammates that were training in Spain were hit by a car that was driving on the wrong side of the road and hit them head on. When the race started we weren’t exactly sure about the status of the riders and if they would be okay again and it was pretty tough concentrating on a race when you know your friends and teammates are in hospitals on operating tables. I think we did very well as a team to talk about it before the race and change focus once the race started but it was definitely not easy.
You were involved in a crash on one of the stages, how did that happen exactly? What were your thoughts surrounding that moment? Do you feel a bit shaken or is it more just jump back on your bike and get on with it?
Going down the gorge on our way to the critical climb of Corkscrew road I was taking care of my team´s climber Tobias Ludvigsson so he could stay in the right position. Someone in front of me misjudged a high speed corner and crashed in the middle of the road at pretty high speed and took a few riders down with him. I tried to avoid the riders on the ground but the only way was to the edge of the road and unfortunately the road ran out before I could get to a stop so I jumped off my bike as soon as my front wheel hit the dirt on the side of the road and I jumped into the hillside and landed on my feet on the other side of one of the riders that was sliding off the road in front of me. I don´t know how I managed to do that but I was lucky to come away with only a bruise on my leg where I hit my handlebar when I jumped off my bike. I was disappointed that I couldn´t help my teammate more but happy that I didn´t get hurt in the crash and carried on very quickly after to finish the stage.
What was your favourite stage? And your least?
The Willunga hill stage is both my favourite and least favourite stage at the same time. The scenery and especially the atmosphere on the climb is amazing and it´s a joy to be racing a bike there and it gives me a lot of energy and motivation to be there and hear all these people but at the same time it´s not my kind of stage, that stage is definitely made for the climbers and I have no chance of a good result myself so in that regard it´s my least favourite stage.
Malachi Moxon (Ambassador & Creative Designer for Jaggad Cycling)
I think from memory this was my 7th year visiting Adelaide to watch and soak up the atmosphere of the TDU .... From a riders point of view, this is something a lot of us really look forward to and often it's the thing that gets us through some of those cold wet rides during winter in Melbourne.
The atmosphere in Adelaide whilst the tour is on is amazing. Riders from all over the place mix in with the Pro's who generally are riding around before the tour officially starts.
The Pros seem to like the TDU as its very laid back and they get to stay in one hotel for the whole week as the race generally starts close by. Unlike most other Tours where there is a lot of traveling involved during the race .
For me personally, it's great I get to catch up with lots of friends , peeps I have met on IG and check out some great kit designs from other companies. Also the riding is fantastic ( if you like hills ) as there are some amazing climbs just a short distance out of the city center .... Each day we plan where the best spot to see the race is from and plan a ride around it with obviously, a few coffee stops thrown in along the way!
It's hard not to enjoy the riding as usually the sun is out and everyone is keen to ride. We usually get in around 900kms on average for the week whilst we are there.
The team and I, took over a few new jerseys soon to be available and these went down really well. The Boomer , Galah , Everybody Polka and the black Leaf it Out ... The great thing about the TDU is that its like a big cycling fashion show, everyone showing their new designs from all parts of Australia. Melbourne I believe, really is doing some great stuff, Maap , Any Given Sunday , Fondo ( girls specific ) plus other brands like Black Sheep , Lumierecycling .....
All in all the Tour Down Under is just a great vibe and Adelaide has some of the best roads and climbs I have ever rode on. If you have never been then pop it in ya calendar for next year, it's a must!! You will not be disappointed ... Great weather , great riding , great food and coffee oh yer! And you can get up close and personnel with some of the best riders in the world!
See ya next year !!
Stacey Katelis (Ambassador for Jaggad Cycling & first timer to the TDU)
For the last two years, I have watched my friends trot along to the TDU for a week of awesome cycling and socialising. Each year it has crept up before I had a chance to get organised. Each year I experienced severe FOMO the entire week following my mates who were over there on the social media, whilst Melbourne remained quiet and uneventful.
So this year, I was determined to make it happen and it did. Did it live up to my expectations? Definitely. Will I be making this an annual trip from now on? ABSOLUTELY!
The TDU was a summer highlight in itself. Big fun get together of like minded & passionate cyclists. Riding the beautiful Adelaide hills by day, socialising with good food and wine by night. Adelaide is the perfect place for it. And the weather was so goddamn good.
The only thing I didn't like was being witness to a cyclist coming off their bike. He ended up in hospital with a broken jaw and nose.
I wasn't there for the entire TDU but Stage 5 at Willunga Hill was my favourite. It felt like a pilgrimage with hundreds of cyclists all making their way to Willunga and then up the hill to watch the end of the race. The atmosphere was fantastic and the camaraderie amongst the spectators made for a fun time. Swigging warm lemonade and cheering, sharing jokes and laughter. The banter was brilliant.
Another highlight was also Bridie O'Donnell breaking the women's hour world record. I was so glad to be there and witness that. Ride like a girl.
The TDU was completely social. I met heaps of new people and bonded further with people I already knew. I would be riding along with one group and suddenly find myself amongst some others. Everyone friendly, everyone in that warm and fuzzy holiday mode. No other commitments other than to make your ride in the morning and get to the agreed dinner venue at night. Endorphins from climbing hills carried us into the evening. Everyone was sun kissed, fit and happy.
I think its only natural that cycling evolves so that the women's racing becomes more prominent over time. Women cyclists love cycling as much as men do. I also find that the men seem to follow the women's cycling with as much interest as they follow the men.
Cycling is a sport that can be a real leveller out in the real world where everyone comes together out on the road. As cyclists we are aware of our own and other people's varying abilities. We rarely consider gender, age or even body type as a determining factor of how someone will go out there. Never judge a book by its cover, I've found this to be especially true in cycling.
#jaggad #jaggadcycling #lifeathletic