It is finally the start of the season, that time of year when you can wean yourself off watching The X-Factor and switch over to Eurosport to catch the latest races.
I’ve been a lucky lad again this year and I have managed to drag my body over to Australia to catch the first race of the UCI World Tour Calendar; The Tour Down Under. Before the tour begins, Adelaide opens with the People’s Choice Classic, not a true pro race, but instead a traditional Crit that pits all the top teams against one another as a leg opener.
As with most events, if you’re a cycling fan you’ll already know the results so I won’t bore you with the details, however for those who want to be a fly on the wall, here’s a video I’ve cobbled together to give you a rough idea of what the scene in the park was like on Sunday night.
The atmosphere here in Adelaide for the TDU and the People’s Classic race is electric. With the pro’s staying at the Hilton Hotel in the city centre for the week, not moving on from town to town like in other tours, it makes for a much more open and friendly atmosphere. The riders tend to relax more, visiting local cafes and restaurants or popping over to the expo where fans can stop them for the odd photo and autograph.
The build-up to the TDU has been fantastic. The pro’s become part of the atmosphere and the organisers shut off one of the main streets on Saturday night for the pre race presentation. In true Aussie style, the event is a party from beginning to end. The evening began with Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwin conducting the team presentations and with the introductions complete, the Australian band Sneaky Sound System kicked off to celebrate 15 years of the TDU.
With great music and a huge crowd, everybody was entertained. Much to the Team Directors dismay I spotted a few riders ducking out of the hotel to join in the fun. I approached quite a high profile rider for a picture only to be told that he wasn’t actually allowed out, so he couldn’t risk the photo ending up on social media and being detected by his manager so he had to decline. For the riders protection I won’t tell you who that was.
When you talk to the riders they all appear genuinely happy to be here and who can blame them? Sun, sun and more sun, with good training and racing friendly roads makes this a good start to the season.
For the next few days I will be attempting to write a daily blog from the land down under. I’ve managed to get myself access to the start and finishes areas and with a camera in hand and the confidence to approach anyone, I hope to get some great footage. I will let you know the inside scoop, the gossip and what the riders are planning from this year’s event as well as my perspective from the sidelines.
For the time being here’s my first few vids from stage one of this year’s Tour Down Under.