The 2016 Santos Tour Down Under announced dates and stages for the opening of the Worldtour next year, Santos celebrating its seventh year as title sponsor. The race begins on Sunday, January 17 with the Down Under Classic in Adelaide, followed by the six-stage race beginning in Lyndoch on Tuesday, January 19. The race concludes in Adelaide on January 24.
The stages include both favourites from past Tours with the addition of Norton Summit road, the iconic South Australian climb. The first stage will lead the peloton to finishing in the Barossa town of Lyndoch for the first time.
The 2015 Tour Down Under saw Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing) seal the overall title.
2016 Santos Tour Down Under stages:
• Down Under Classic (Adelaide) – 51 km – Sunday, January 17
• Stage 1 – Prospect to Lyndoch – 130.8 km – Tuesday, January 19
• Stage 2 – Unley to Stirling – 132 km – Wednesday, January 20
• Stage 3 – Glenelg to Campbelltown – 139 km – Thursday, January 21
• Bupa Stage 4 – Norwood to Victor Harbour – 138 km – Friday, January 22
• Bike Exchange Stage 5 – McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill – 151.5 km – Saturday, January 23
• Be Safe Be Seen MAC Stage 6 – Adelaide – 90 km – Sunday, January 24
Race organisers received extra funding over the next four years from the State Budget to further integrate women’s cycling, while looking to grow their television broadcast and international market. "In 2015 the TDU generated a record $47.9 million into the economy, attracting 786,022 spectators. More than 600 FTE jobs were also created," Tourism Minister Leon Bignell said.
Promising to be bigger and better than ever, the 2016 edition will include over 800 kilometres of racing between the Down Under Classic and the stage race during the week. "The stages are challenging, competitive and offer great vantage points for viewing by adding in more loops across regional stages," Bignell added.
Following the flat circuit race on Sunday, stage 1 and 2 offers bumpy profiles before heading into stage 3 where riders will race up and over Corkscrew Hill Rd before descending to the finish into Campbelltown. Cycling fans will recall Cadel Evan’s stirring win in 2014, one year before retiring from the sport.
Stage 4 begins straight away with a climb for the riders out of Norwood to warm the legs up on their way to Victor Harbour for 138km. The course flattens towards the finish, but with a couple of small climbs at 20km to go, the sprinters may have to pass on a win for this stage.
The penultimate stage will see the return of Willunga Hill yet again, a challenge for many that early in the season, having to ascend it twice.
The final climb of the race may once again make or break the GC for a rider as we saw with Riche Porte the past couple of years, winning the stage in 2015. Look for the GC contenders to attack here, their final chance to gain time before the last day.
After the first week of racing for the professional peloton, the race is set for its finale in Adelaide with a 20 lap circuit race. The mostly out and back course may see another surprise win like Wouter Wippert (Drapac) this year to end another edition.
The Santos Women’s Tour will return once again as well after celebrating its inaugural year in 2015. The four-stage race will include two criterium stages and two road races. Valentina Scandolara (Orica-AIS) was the overall winner by a mere six seconds. Full details to be announced later this year.