Road cyclists have begun boarding planes and travelling across the globe as the first major road race of year, the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, prepares to get the 2007 road season rolling. The stage race will see teams from all parts of the globe begin their respective seasons with the big trek 'down under' to the South Australian capital city.Last weekend saw an 'invasion' marked the beginning of the invasion of world class international cyclists to Adelaide for the upcoming Tour Down Under.
One hundred and twelve cyclists representing 20 countries will contest the 2007 Tour Down Under. The countries represented are Australia, Belgium, Belarus, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, and the USA. The Belgian registered Chocolades Jacques team was the first to arrive in Adelaide, followed AG2R Prevoyance, Predictor-Lotto and Credit Agricole.
"Everything is in place for the arrival of the teams," said race director, Mike Turtur. "The Tour Village setup is complete, all the race staff and volunteers are briefed and standing by and we're all looking forward to welcoming this year's contenders."
On Wednesday the US Navigators Insurance team will arrive while Barloworld and CSC's international riders will land in Adelaide the following day. Milram will fly in on January 13, Unibet.com one day later and the final international team, New Zealand, will make the trip across the Tasman on the 15th, in time for the official teams presentation that night.
The Tour field has grown to 14 teams in 2007 with action kicking off with the Down Under Classic at Adelaide's East End on Tuesday night January 16, before the peloton lines up for the five-stage Tour Down Under on the 17th.
Of the 112 strong field, 20 competed at the 2006 Tour de France including Australians Stuart O'Grady, Robbie McEwen and Simon Gerrans, who is the defending Tour Down Under champion.
The start list also includes 2006 Tour de France stage ten winner Juan Miguel Mercado (Agritubel); Cyril Dessel of AG2R-Prevoyance, who wore the Tour de France leader's yellow jersey for a day and finished seventh overall, and the winner of the 2006 Tour de France green sprinter's jersey, Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto).
The 2007 Tour Down Under will cover 667 kilometres and offer the more than 400,000 estimated spectators some ideal vantage points from which to view the action as it races through some of South Australia's most spectacular landscapes including the Barossa Valley, Fluerieu Peninsula and Adelaide Hills.
For further information see Tour Down Under's website.