Australian WorldTour season opener proves more popular than ever
The dates for the 2014 edition of the Santos Tour Down Under have been announced with the third Sunday of January set to kick-off the opening WorldTour round of the New Year.
The race which continues to see marked growth in attendance rates from both the world's best riders and spectators will run from 19-26 January with an expected return of the traditional criterium and six-stage format set to draw in the crowds once again.
Route details will be announced later in the year however, many can expect Adelaide City to host the warm-up criterium on 19 January before the peloton take a day of rest before commencing the six-day race on the following Tuesday.
Adelaide City will likely conclude the week's race on Sunday 26 January with the familiar city circuit providing a fitting and suspense-filled finale to the race in 2013.
Tourism Minister Leon Bignell noted the increased numbers of interstate and international visitors who travelled to Adelaide specifically for the event while South Australia experienced an economic impact of $43.6 million.
"The event attracted more than 760,400 people to Adelaide and regional South Australia across eight days, including 40,000 interstate and international visitors who travelled here specifically for the event," said Bignell.
This year's edition saw the rising talent of Tom-Jelte Slagter who took out the overall title riding for the revitalised Rabobank team, which raced for the first time under the Blanco name and colours, while the sprint stages were dominated by Lotto Belisol's number-one sprinter André Greipel - who took his 100th professional victory in the final stage around Adelaide.
Orica GreenEdge were of course unable to successfully defend the title won in 2012, a feat achieved by Simon Gerrans but the local team was consoled with a win atop the queen stage to Willunga Hill.
Specific details of the stages are expected to be announced in the coming months.