We all know Europe excels when it comes to cycling. The most important cycling tours are European and more often than not, when thinking about performance cycling we think about European cyclists. But Australia shows other continents can also excel in cycling thanks to the Santos Tour Down Under.
Yet, it’s one of the most important road races in the world. And thousands of enthusiasts wait for this race to take place at the beginning of each year in Adelaide.
If you’ve never heard about this tour before, or if you have but want to learn more, here’s an insight on what you need to know.
What Is Santos Tour Down Under
Santos Tour Down Under is a stage road cycling race for men which takes place in Adelaide, in southern Australia. The competition is organized every year in January and it was held for the first time in 1999.
Santos Tour Down Under gets its name from its main sponsor, Santos, a gas company, and it’s the first race of the UCI Pro Tour circuit. It begins in the third Tuesday of January and lasts for nine days, during which the tour transforms into much more than a competition.
In fact, locals understand the Tour Down Under as a cycling festival. During the nine days, there are organized numerous events meant to bring awareness to the festival and to boost the region’s tourism. And the numbers speak for themselves.
Counting over 800.000 visitors in 2020 and generating an economic impact of over 60 million AUD, Santos Tour Down Under is one of the most important cycling events in Australia and the world.
The tour, which has replaced the Tour of Sardinia as the beginning of the season stage race, was included in the UCI Oceania Tour only in 2007 and was recognized by UCI Pro Tour a year later.
Santos Tour Down Under – History
The race has been held for the first time in 1999 and since then, it has been directed by Mike Turtur. The race evolved as a local event until 2005 when it was promoted by the Union Cycliste Internationale to the 2HC category, the highest rank assigned to a race outside Europe.
This drew the attention of the big associations and in 2007 the UCI Oceania Tour, the continental correspondent in Oceania of the most famous UCI Pro Tour included the Tour Down Under in its calendar.
The race was included for the first time into the continental UCI Pro Tour’s calendar in 2008 and it was the first race outside of Europe to be included in the UCI calendar of the World Tours. Since then, Santos Tour Down Under has been the official beginning of the season stage race and succeeded to establish itself a name in the international cycling.
The first winner of the competition was Stuart O’Grady, Australian. However, the record of the most won races belongs to Simon Gerrans who crossed the finish line first for four times, in 2006, 2012, 2014, and 2016.
Today, the Santos Tour Down Under is owned and managed by Events South Australia on behalf of the South Australian Government.
Santos Tour Down Under – Jerseys
Any stage road race that respects itself come with various jersey for those racers who, in one way or another, stand out. Santos Tour Down Under has six of them. Let’s see which they are.
Ocher Leader’s Jersey
Is awarded to the rider who has the best cumulative time at the end of each stage, and to the final winner of the race. The color is associated with Australia and the Tour Down Under is the only race to have an ocher jersey as the hallmark of the leader. So, if you’re planning to compete, ocher should become your new favorite color.
Or the blue jersey is awarded to the rider who wins the most points and time bonuses awarded to the first three racers who pass the corresponding milestones during the race. Along with the ocher jersey, this is one of the most desired jerseys.
King Of The Mountain Jersey
A beautiful name for a stylish jersey that perfectly encloses the Aussie spirit. This jersey is white with green polka dots and is awarded to the rider who registered the highest number of points awarded to the first five racers who conquer the peaks.
Young Rider Jersey
The young rider jersey is black and is awarded to the best under-25 rider who had the best cumulative time at the end of each stage and at the end of the race. The competition to get this jersey is fierce, so you should establish a good training plan if you’re younger than 25 and want to participate in the competition.
Most Competitive Rider Jersey
This green jersey is awarded to the rider who brings in the most attacks and fugues, and who helps the teammates to get the most advantages during each stage.
Winning Team Jersey
The winning team jersey is red and is assigned to all members of the team who had the lowest cumulative time in each stage. This isn’t exactly a jersey to aim for, so I suggest focusing on all other colors, even if red is your favorite shade.
Participating In The Santos Tour Down Under
Let’s admit it, whether you’re a pro or an enthusiast, participating in an international event is appealing. The Santos Tour Down Under is open to all professional cyclists but what to do if you’re not one?
Well, there’s good news. Aiming to make the tour more than a cycling competition, the organizers also propose a series of alternative tours for the less experienced riders. The most important is the Challenge Tour, an annual mass-participation ride which takes place just hours before the real tour begins.
Although it’s not quite the tour, this competition is still challenging and fun, giving you a feeling on how the pros compete.
The Mini Tour For Kids is an awesome opportunity for young riders to give the most out and challenge other riders of a similar age. The tour follows the original Santos Tour Down Under route and lasts for about 20 minutes.
Families can also enjoy this event by attending family laps on the route, only hours before the tour. Encouraging the participation of all families, these rides welcome cyclists with trailers and child seats attached to their vehicles.
The Santos Tour Down Under is an awesome event to follow or attend. Taking place in the southern hemisphere in a month when the northern side of the globe is covered in a cold blanket of snow, the Tour Down Under proposes a breath of fresh air and the possibility to extend your usual cycling season.
Open to professional cyclists and amateurs alike, Santos Tour Down Under sets itself apart and shows the world that Europe is not the only place that promotes a healthy lifestyle. So, embark on this journey and attend a competition, at least as a viewer. I promise you won’t regret it!