- 'it could happen to you!'
By Gerard Knapp
During the month of July - Tour de France time - Cyclingnews ran a competition in conjunction with the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) offering one lucky reader and his friend or partner a fully-expenses paid trip to Australia to see the 2008 Tour Down Under.
From the thousands of entries, the lucky winner was a Canadian, Mr Greg Merrick, a keen cyclist who will be boarding a plane next January, heading a long way south from his northern winter to take in the sights, sounds and roads of South Australia, not to mention the fine wines of the Barossa Valley and wildlife on the spectacular Kangaroo Island.
When we first contacted Greg, you could say he was a little wary but perhaps the Australian accent on the other end of the phone convinced him it was really his lucky day.
Greg lives in the small town of Vernon in the southern interior of British Columbia, Canada. "I'm an avid cyclist, and a regular at the local Thursday evening crit series just south of where I live. I also take care of the timing for our TT series that we put on Tuesday evenings near town here. I am fortunate to live in an area that has great roads for riding whichever direction you head out from town, and some good coffee shops for that post ride beverage!
"I was absolutely stunned to hear that I'd won the trip to Australia and the 2008 TDU, especially as I'd never won anything more than $10 in the lottery before! I'm thrilled to be able to be there to see some of the world's top cyclists participate in the year's first major stage race of the year! I've enjoyed Cyclingnews for several years now and always seen the names of contest winners that live thousands on miles away, never thinking that just by entering I could one day be one of those lucky winners," he said.
"To all those readers out there who haven't bothered to enter the contests, thinking they'd never win .... if it happened to me, it could happen to you! Fill out that entry, because you too might get that phone call one day!"
Rebecca White, the inbound marketing manager from the SATC, said, "the South Australian Tourism Commission is really pleased to be to bringing the lucky Cyclingnews reader and his nominated partner to South Australia for the fantastic cycling festival of the Tour Down Under 2008, and its 10th birthday celebration."
While in Australia, Greg and his partner will also have a pair of Teschner road bikes at their disposable, and they'll also get the chance to spend a full day in the team car of the South Australia.com - AIS cycling team, providing a rare glimpse into the action of road stage of the Tour Down Under. They'll also get a trip to Kangaroo Island to commune with the furry locals, a trip to the famous Barossa Valley winemaking region, and also a trip to the spectacular Flinders Ranges.
Thank you to everyone who entered and we're sorry it wasn't your turn this time, but we're sure that in the future we'll be offering a similar chance for our readers to win other great prizes.
Cyclingnews extends its thanks to the SATC and its partners for combining to offer this great trip down under, and we're expecting next year's race to be a cracker, as the status of this event continues to grow. Just last week it was announced that the Volkswagen-owned Czech Republic car manufacturer, Skoda Auto, had signed on as the event's major sponsor for the next three years.
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