South Australia's Tour Down Under, which last year became the first ProTour race to be held outside of Europe, will receive a major injection of funds in the 2008-09 State Budget. Tourism Minister Jane Lomax-Smith today announced an extra AUD$14.6 million would be provided over the next four years to increase the tourism benefits of the race.
The budget, to be handed down next week, also includes an extra AUD$3.1 million over four years to attract more events to South Australia, particularly outside the popular January to March period. The funding injection was announced to coincide with the registration opening for the 2009 Skoda Breakaway Series' Mutual Community Challenge Tour. Lomax-Smith also announced a new start town for next year's race – Burnside will host the start of the stage 4 route to Angaston for the first time. Other routes will be announced in July.
Lomax-Smith said the Tour Down Under has grown to become the nation's most significant cycling race. "This year's Tour Down Under achieved amazing results, attracting more tourists, bigger crowds of spectators, more world media coverage and a larger economic impact than ever before. We believe there is scope to increase the tourism benefits and further boost South Australia's profile in the all-important European market – the source for the largest number of visitors to our State."
The minister added, "This funding injection will allow organisers to promote the race more heavily in key European markets where cycling is big business and attracts a huge following."
According to Lomax-Smith, the 2008 Tour Down Under added an estimated AUD$17.3 million to the State's economy – a 50.4% increase from 2007. "More than 15,000 people travelled from interstate and overseas specifically for the event and if we can boost that number in the future, the economic benefits will be even greater. Achieving ProTour status was a significant moment in the Tour Down Under's 10-year history and we want to be able to capitalise on that milestone as much as possible.
"Events such as this pump money into our shops, restaurants, pubs and tourism operators. [These] events are an essential part of the Rann Government's push to make tourism a AUD$6.3 billion industry by 2014."
Mutual Community Challenge Tour
Registration for the 2009 Mutual Community Challenge Tour is now open. The event will be held on January 23, 2009, coinciding with stage 4 of the Tour Down Under. There are three riding options. The long version goes from Burnside Village to Angaston over 143 kilometres, with an early 6:30 start. The second option is a 97-kilometre run from Mt Pleasant to Angaston, with a send-off at 7:30. The final option is a leisurely 32-kilometre route from Angaston back to Angaston. It starts at noon.
People can register for the Breakaway Series at the race website. In 2008, more than 3400 riders signed up for the Mutual Community Challenge Tour (see report) and in 2009 sights have been set high on a target cap of 5,000 riders. An 'early bird' offer is available until 31 July 2008, allowing people to register at 2008 prices.
Full 2009 Tour Down Under stage details and race routes will be announced on July 4, 2008.