The clock is ticking down and after months of preparation Australia's Tour Down Under is ready for its debut as a round of the ProTour. On the eve of its 10th Anniversary event the race is ready to hit the world stage as Cyclingnews' Greg Johnson discovered.
As 133 riders take to the Tour Down Under's Stage 1 start line at South Australia's Mawson Lakes tomorrow morning each of the athletes will be claiming their own part of cycling history as they become a part of the day the ProTour goes global. While the term globalisation is one firmly implanted in the business plans of any would-be multi national corporation and many big-dollar sports around the world, it's taken a little longer for the top echelons of cycling to embrace its own popularity around the world and include a non-European race in the ProTour.
After initially bidding for a 2009 ProTour slot, Australia's Tour Down Under has been awarded not only the right, but more importantly the honour, of hosting the first non-European round. The announcement of its ProTour status in late 2007 was a massive boost for the already successful Tour Down Under.
"The organization is very proud of the fact that the first venture outside of Europe is here in Adelaide," said a delighted event director Mike Turtur. "I think it's an important step for cycling as a whole, I think it's the start of a new era and we're very excited by ProTour.
"We believe in the concept, we believe it's the way to go," he added. "I also have a strong commitment to globalisation. I think every aspect of what we're trying to achieve with the UCI and the race here will be bigger and better for everyone in the future."
To read the full feature on the Tour Down Under, click here.