By Susan Westemeyer
Sprinters have dominated the Tour Down Under over its ten-year history, with all six stages this year coming down to a mass sprint. Race Director Mike Turtur admitted that it was finally time to make some changes and make the race more demanding.
He had hoped that the Old Wallunga Hill climb in the fifth stage would break things up a bit, which it did to a certain extent, but there was still a roughly 40-man strong mass sprint.
"The race held together more so than we've ever experienced before," he said. "Certainly, we'll be looking at a more demanding course for next year. In the old days, we might have had blowouts of 15 or 20 minutes from the main group, but we didn't see any of that this year. Now our challenge is to introduce changes to the course that are going to reflect the quality and provide the challenge for all the riders – sprinters and climbers – and have a bit of everything for everyone."
Two former winners had suggestions as to how to make things harder. Stuart O'Grady, calling the premiere ProTour version of the race a "bit of a sprinter fest," wanted the stages to be longer, but not harder. Patrick Jonker called for a mountain-top finish.