By Khairunnisa Schebella in Adelaide
Tour Down Under Race director Mike Turtur announced today at the launch of the 11th edition of the race, that 2009 will be toughest yet for riders. South Australian Premier Mike Rann launched the race to the public at the award-winning Hawke Centre at the University of South Australia.
After a race stacked with bunch finishes in 2008, riders were consulted on how to make the race better. They requested more climbs – and they got what they asked for. Competitors will now tackle extra King of the Mountain finishes on three race days and will have to climb Willunga Hill, south of Adelaide, twice during the popular beach side stage five. This in itself could change the 804km race outcome.
Old favourite climbs such as Menglers and Checkers will be revisited as well as Gould Creek, Fox Creek Road and Wickam Hills Road inland from McLaren Flat. The magnificent ocean views from Crows Nest Road, Port Elliot will also give riders with climbing legs plenty to be happy about.
"I think it's the hardest race on paper but it's also still considering and making sure that you don't go over the top for January and remembering that we're the first race of the season, so the balance in terms of distance, terrain and difficulty is always a consideration," Turtur said.
The Adelaide suburbs of Norwood and Unley are back on route, as are 20 laps up Montefiore Hill in the city for the final street circuit on Sunday, January 25. The East End Classic, to kick the whole event off on the Sunday before, will lose the U-turn to keep the race at high speed and riders will traverse the Rymill Park circuit 30 times.
New to the schedule in 2009 is another eastern suburbs start from the Burnside Shopping Centre as well as a start at Snapper Point, Aldinga. This allows for an extra 20kms to the Willunga stage.
Mawson Lakes will see a stage finish, whilst the race returns to Victor Harbor, Angaston and Willunga for finishes on stages three, four and five respectively. Also in reverse next year will be the Hahndorf to Sterling stage two with the riders having to face the arduous climb into Sterling three times.
This also means that only two stages have relatively long distances for the riders to return to the hotel post race, which will provide for better recovery conditions.
All the familiar side events are happening with the Skoda Breakaway Series including the Mutual Community Challenge Tour and the Mini Tour for Kids. The Legends dinner will be held at the Convention Centre on the River Torrens allowing for easy walking or tram catching back to the Adelaide Hilton Hotel. Race organisers will announce shortly who will be the special guest legends for 2009.
"I think there's enough there for everyone," added Turtur. "Going back to locations like Norwood I think is great for the race, and a finish at Mawson Lakes is going to be terrific and popular. Then, we have a suburban start at Burnside Village, so I think we've found enough new stuff for next year's race to make it really interesting."
South Australian Minister for Tourism & Education Dr Lomax-Smith is keen for the race to keep growing in stature and outcomes. "We want next year's event to be even bigger and better than the record results we achieved in 2008" she said.
The 2009 Tour Down Under route lists as follows:
Sunday, January 18 - Down Under Classic: Rymill Park, Adelaide, 51 km Tuesday, January 20 - Stage 1: Norwood - Mawson Lakes, 140 km Wednesday, January 21 - Stage 1: Hahndorf - Stirling, 145 km Thursday, January 22 - Stage 1: Unley - Victor Harbor, 136 km Friday, January 23 - Stage 1: Burnside Village - Angaston, 143 km Saturday, January 24- Stage 1: Snapper Point - Willunga, 148 km Sunday, January 25 - Stage 1: Adelaide City Council Street Circuit, 90 km
For more information, visit the official website at www.tourdownunder.com.au.