The lobby of the Hilton Hotel in Adelaide is where the real action happens at the Tour Down Under. It is where riders, team managers, UCI heads, agents and race organisers openly mingle with one another, so it’s little wonder that Tour de Yorkshire organiser Sir Gary Verity, likened the whole experience to speed dating.
Verity is at the race because officially the Tour Down Under is twinned with the Tour de Yorkshire, and the two races cross promote one another throughout the season. The man responsible for bringing the Tour de France to the UK for the first time in almost a decade is also in Adelaide to attract the best talent to the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire.
“From my point of view, as the organiser of the Tour de Yorkshire, I need to talk to loads of different people in the cycling family,” he told Cyclingnews.
“It’s a bit like speed dating. Everyone is here in the same place so I can get around the teams so that in three days I can talk to as many people as it would take me three or four week via email. There’s nothing like good old-fashioned human contact where you can sit down and have a cup of coffee.”
The 2019 World Championships
As he speeds dates the days away Verity can wax lyrical with regards to the high level of organisation at his races, the ties with ASO and the huge crowds that have come out for the first two editions of his race. The ace up Verity’s sleeve is that the World Road Race Championships will be held in Yorkshire in 2019 and any potential rainbow jersey contender worth his salt will want to experience the roads and atmosphere before the championships.
“We’d love to have the best riders, certainly the best teams as possible. We’re lucky in that respect because the teams like coming to Yorkshire because they know they’re going to get huge crowds and great television coverage.”
“Thomas Voeckler, I’m delighted to say, will be coming back to defend his championship and we’d love to have Caleb Ewan back. He’s even hotter property. Christian Prudhomme, my friend here, called him the new Manx Missile.”
“With the Worlds, we can say that it’s a dress rehearsal now. If you’ve not ridden Yorkshire before then this a good excuse to come and get used to the Worlds.”
Ewan took part in the race in 2016 and came close to winning a stage. Another even greater star at the Tour Down Under is Peter Sagan – a two-time world champion - who is courted by race organisers across the globe.
“It’s up to them. They know that they’re welcome,” Verity told Cyclingnews in relation to Sagan’s Bora-hansgrohe team.
“We’ve invited all the key teams that we want to take part and we have seven WorldTour team committed so far. Those conversations will carry on and I’m sure the number will rise.”