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Thank heavens for the Aussies! Just as we in the northern hemisphere are at our lowest, stuck in deep mid winter and with a post Christmas bulge, the best thing to get our motivation back is to watch the Pros ride and race in the sweet sunshine of Southern Australia. Just think, we will be doing this in four or five months – best get out training!

With the Jayco Bay Crits well under way, we’ve already been treated to the sights of Pros and their new shiny bikes.

Following these are the Aussie National Champs which will see the likes of Rogers, Simon Gerrans, Cameron Mayer, Lloyd, Porte and Davis (2010 Commonwealth Champion) vying for the title in Ballarat on Sunday afternoon.

TdU 2011

Back to the Bay Crits and what entertainment they’ve been, with the time difference meaning we only really see the press shots of the race we can’t help but want to be there! I think I speak for most people up here in saying we’d love some sunshine and to get out in temps above freezing!

Four rapid days of racing have given three winners, with overall winner Matt Goss taking the win on Stage 1 and Stage 4. Michael Matthews took the overall with his win on Stage 2 and Sulzberger won in sunny Geelong (Stage 3).

Promising action for the following Sunday when the Santos Tour Down Under rolls out of Mawson Lakes (and through the Barossa Valley – prime wine country).

So what does this race entail? Where does it go? Who can I see there? Will the podium girls rival the TdF’s or ToB’s?

The Route:

Adelaide and the surrounding area caters for the riders. 6 stages include testing climbs and stage 6 is a sprinters dream with the profile barely lifting off the base-line:

Quite a difference there!

  • Stage 1: Takes the riders from Mawson Lakes to Angaston (138km).
  • Stage 2: Tailem Bend to Mannum and the longest stage of 146km.
  • Stage 3: Unley to Stirling with hills!
  • Stage 4: Norwood to Strathalbyn.
  • Stage 5: McLaren Vale to Willunga over 131km.
  • Stage 6: A pan flat 90km encompassing Adelaide.

Click the map on the right to view each stage in detail —>

Stage to watch: Stage 3:

  • Unley to Stirling with an 11am roll-out (purple route on the map).
  • 129km or 80 and a bit miles awaits the riders on this refreshing stage which takes in coast, climbs and a final 3km which would excite anyone with a sprint in them.
  • Will the winds break the race up? Will the climbs sap everyone but the best? We’ll have to wait and see.

Who’s Racing?

First article of 2011 and of course Lance Armstrong is in here – this will be his last overseas Pro Tour race. If you needed another reason to go down and watch the race this should hopefully sway you!
Lance Armstrong:

“I’m excited to be competing in my last professional ride outside the US at the Tour Down Under,” said Armstrong. “I’m sure I will enjoy it as much as I have the first two times.”

Armstrong competed in the last two editions. In 2009, he marked his comeback from a three-year retirement and last year he launched his new RadioShack team in Adelaide.

Mark Cavendish:
This will be “the first time Cavendish will go head-to-head with his sprint rival and former team mate Andre Greipel so the pressure will be on Renshaw to set Cav up in the sprint finishes,”

With new kit, new bikes and an altered team, it’s sure to be interesting to see if Cav can continue in his winning ways!

The HTC Highroad team for TdU so far is: Mark Cavendish (GBR), Bernhard Eisel (Austria), Mark Renshaw (AUS), Bert Grabsch (GER), Matthew Goss (AUS), Danny Pate (USA) and Hayden Roulston (NZL) – Cycling News.

Andrei Greipel:

Former HTC team mate and now riding from OPL, he will be gunning to show the HTC bosses what he could have done if he’d been allowed!

Add in Tyler Farrar, Allan Davies and Ciolek of Quick Step and you really do have a race full of sprinters – a good job there are no mountain stages really.

Local hero Stuart O’Grady will lead the new Luxembourg Pro Cycling Project squad, while Richie Porte heads the Saxo Bank team with fellow Australians Baden Cooke and David Tanner. Under 23 world champion Michael Matthews will make his big-time professional début and go shoulder to shoulder with the sprinters as part of the Rabobank team.

If it can be as exciting as last years edition, we really can’t wait to sit up late through the night to watch the race unfold. Here are the highlights from last year’s Stage 1:

I’ll leave the podium girls’ opinion until the race unfolds and the lucky winner gets given his champagne and flowers from them before making a decision. Topping the girls from the Tour is going to be a tall order though!

If you’re off to watch a particular stage let us know below where you’ve chosen and why, also if you take any good or unusual photos on the day let us see them and we’ll publish them on here! As if we needed any more excuses to show pictures of racing in hot weather!

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