Anyone who heads to Adelaide for the Santos Tour Down Under knows all about the buzz. It’s there the moment you head into the city and see the race village set up. Hundreds of thousands pour into Adelaide to soak up the action, and BikeExchange gets amongst it each and every year.
For just over a week Adelaide is home to some of the truly biggest names in elite road racing. They’re hanging around the village and outside the Hilton Adelaide, they’re heading off in the mornings leading into the race for training rides, they’re out and about like the rest of us. We mere cycling mortals can head out for our daily spin and be passed by some of the living legends in the sport, or just see them chilling out and about with their team mates in-between commitments.
Since when do Australian Open tennis players go for a warm-up on a public court whilst mum, dad and the kids have a match?
But it’s not just the riders that make this Tour special. Big-time bike lovers come to town with their two-wheel steeds so blinged-up they make some of the pro bikes look a little light-on. Roads are full of bunches dressed in club kit, social bunch kit, or super cool kit, all of them out for a quality spin before the day’s action starts. Lycra is de rigueur no matter what the time of day.
The Santos Tour Team do a great job of making the most of this major event. Councils get on board with night markets and festivals, there are stunts like the attempt to create the world’s longest bike, or the much-loved Undies Run fundraiser for bowel cancer.
Then there’s the crowds – oh boy do the crowds come out and line the streets!
You’d expect big numbers in the CBD, sure, but what really makes this event so cool is the level of commitment beyond the city and suburban routes of any stages. Fans jump on their bikes and punch out some serious kms to get to certain vantages early in support of the peloton, which only gives them a second of its time as it flies past. You could head to, say, Paracombe and wait two hours for the riders to rocket by, all the while getting entertained by age groupers as they give the 9% gradient a nudge ahead of the pros.
And Willunga… We love Willunga!
We are such big fans that this year we became the Stage Sponsor of this iconic part of the TDU. Willunga’s wild – that hill is jam-packed with thousands of supporters who dress up, dial up the volume and go absolutely bananas. As the chopper flies overhead, the sirens wail, the riders flash by; the crowd is almost in a support trance with everyone beating to the same rhythm, screaming frantically for all riders no matter where they are in the peloton.
Yep – it’s huge.
So huge, in fact, that now we’re all home and back in routine, we can’t quite let go of the high. guess we will just have to wait until we can do it all over again in 2016