By Khairunnisa Schebella
The 10th Anniversary Tour Down Under was launched by organisers at Adelaide Festival Theatre's Space Theatre yesterday. In a celebratory party mode, resplendent with party hats and orange cupcakes, all the familiar faces from the past 10 years were on hand to present next year's program.
Oppy the race Kangaroo pointed the way through to the theatre, where race caller Jimmy Jacques kicked off a hi-tech sound and light show, featuring jerseys and podium girl fashions from the inaugural race in 1999 through to next year's space-age skin suit.
Premier Mike Rann made an impromptu appearance, confirming the State Government's ongoing commitment to the event. State Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith was also on hand, having just returned from a meeting with UCI officials at the Tour de France's start in London, to announce an expanded line-up for next year's event, which will span two weekends in 2008.
Lomax-Smith was also excited about the State Government's push towards the Adelaide race being a 'natural' first non-European race on the ProTour calendar. A decision on the UCI ProTour, and whether the Tour Down Under has earned a spot on it, will be made in September.
"What has happened, the passion for cycling in South Australia, over the past ten years, is nothing short of phenomenal", said Lomax-Smith. "I remember the first launch back in Ayer House - I knew nothing about cycling. We now understand, and with a passion, about this sport. We now know what it means to be in the peloton. We watch the Tour de France and the stars we see there are the same stars we see here."
To read the full Tour Down Under launch article, click here.