Upsets Down Under

UniSA’s Will Clarke delivered what was described as ‘a superman solo effort’ to take victory on the Colemans Group Stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under, finishing 1:02 ahead of the 2011 stage winner Michael Matthews (Rabobank) and putting the newly crowned Australian road race champion, Simon Gerrans of GreenEDGE in third. The Tasmanian rider broke from the peloton in the first kilometre of the 148km long second stage (Lobethal to Stirling) and remained uncatchable from that point in. His success was made all the sweater – and downright unexpected –  by the fact that until two weeks ago the amateur cyclist didn’t even know he was going to compete, only securing his place in the squad after qualifying at the National Road Cycling Championships.


A somewhat shell-shocked sounding Clarke commented, ‘This is unbelievable really…this is the biggest win of my career. It’s my first win in the WorldTour. I knew my form was good.’



Down Under Begins

The traditional opener for the Santos Tour Down Under, the Down Under Classic, has been won in spectacular fashion by  Lotto-Belisol’s Andre Greipel. The  51 kilometre (30 laps) circuit race of Adelaide saw the German sprinter storm home in front of 112,000 fans, beating Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky) into second and with Garmin-Barracuda’s Heinrich Haussler third. Speaking after the event, Greipel said, “As a team, we didn’t want to race with too much pressure but it worked out well… We practised a lot of lead out train before this race and it paid off. It’s always good to win and it’s a great way to start a new season.”


Riders break from the action today (Monday, January 16) before tackling the first stage proper of the UCI WorldTour tomorrow, taking on the 149km leg from Prospect to Clare.



An all Oz-squad for GreenEDGE

Commenting on the decision Race Director Mike Turtur has said, ‘GreenEDGE has selected a high quality team to make its debut at our race, which is fantastic. We expect the riders will do very well competitively and be a team that the fans will embrace.’ adding that the inclusion of the GreenEDGE squad marked a milestone in Australian cycling. The reigning Santos Tour Down Under winner and Australian National Time Trial Champion, Cameron Meyer, will headlines the seven-rider squad.


Speaking of his pride and their chances of success, GreenEDGE General Manager Shayne Bannan said, ‘We’re obviously really proud to have such a great line-up for our first race on the WorldTour. Having our debut in Australia is exciting. It’s a race that has gone from strength to strength over the last years. We are trying to honour that by bringing a really competitive roster. It will be a hard race, but we have a good chance to put GreenEDGE on the map in our first big, international competition.’
Led by Team Manager, Matt White (AUS) and the squad will comprise: Cameron Meyer, Matt Goss, Stuart O’Grady, Simon Gerrans, Jack Bobridge, Leigh Howard and Robbie McEwen.



Get Ready for the Tour Down Under

January 15 to 22 is the date for your diary as the Santos Tour Down Under 2012, the traditional Australian kick-off event of the UCI WorldTour, draws near. First held in January 1999, the event has grown exponentially ever since and is now, by far, the biggest cycling race in the southern hemisphere – it became the opener for the WorldTour in 2008 making it the first non-European country to be included in the gruelling calendar and now attracts in excess of 780,000 spectators. Adding to the event’s prestige was the fact that cycling legend Lance Armstrong chose it in 2009 for his much-publicised return to pro racing.


Although at its heart the TDU is a week long WorldTour event, in a wider context it is an all-round festival of cycling with numerous associated activities (and more than a hint of party atmosphere) that also offers a unique opportunity for amateur riders to take to the pro route via the Skoda Breakaway Series.


When it comes to the main event the action gets underway with the Down Under Classic, a closed circuit road race through Adelaide which allows spectators an unparalleled opportunity to get up close to some of the biggest cycling stars in the world. After a day’s break the six subsequent stages traditionally break out of the city for a true tour of the regions highlights with the 2012 stages breaking down as:


Stage 1 (Tuesday January 17) – Prospect to Clare, 149km

Stage 2 (Wednesday January 18) – Lobethal to Stirling, 148km

Stage 3 (Thursday January 19) – Unley to Victor Harbor, 134.5km

Stage 4 (Friday January 20) – Norwood to Tanunda, 130km

Stage 5 (Saturday January 21) – McLaren Vale to Old Willunga Hill, 151.5km

Stage 6 (Sunday January 22) – Adelaide City Circuit – 90km, comprising 20laps.


As you would expect from a WorldTour event there are a number of highly fought over jerseys awarded at the Santos Tour Down Under – whilst the Tour de France’s leaders jersey is yellow and the Giro d’Italia’s is pink (the maglia rosa), the TDU’s is ochre; in addition the Skoda king of the Mountain and Jayco Spirit jersey (awarded to the rider who leads the sprint points tally after each stage) are also up for grabs along with the Cycle Instead Young Rider Jersey goes to the U25 with the fastest cumulative time at the end of each stage. Finally there is the Hindmarsh Most Aggressive Rider Jersey (taken by local hero Stuart O’Grady of Team Leopard-Trek in 2011) and the South Australia Brilliant Blend Winning Team Jersey which, this year, went to Movistar.


Only two riders have ever won the Santos Tour Down Under twice: Australia’s Stuart O’Grady (1999 and 2001) and Germany’s André Greipel (2008 and 10).