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Merckx takes on Tour Down Under's community ride

Race organiser Eddy Merckx also went out for a ride.

Race organiser Eddy Merckx also went out for a ride. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)

Eddy Merckx will get a first-hand look at the parcours for the 2012 Santos Tour Down Under when the cycling legend gets back on the bike for the official recreational ride of the UCI ProTour event, the Bupa Challenge Tour.

The Bupa Challenge Tour, will be held on Friday, 20 January 2012, covering a distance of 138km, from Norwood to Tanunda with four distance options on offer – Merckx choosing to take on the 33km option from Tanunda which includes Menglers Hill in the Barossa Valley.

Merckx's commitment to pull on a Bupa Challenge Tour jersey and participate is a massive coup as the ride celebrates 10 years in 2012. Events South Australia General Manager, Hitaf Rasheed, said this would be a fantastic opportunity for cycling fans to get up close and personal with the cycling legend.

"Eddy Merckx is considered the greatest and most successful cyclist of all time, having worn the yellow jersey for a record 96 days throughout his career. It is very generous of him to make time in his schedule whilst in Adelaide to ride with the fans," she said.

Santos Tour Down Under organisers are urging everyone to pull on their lycra and take to the streets to begin their preparations now for the 2012 Bupa Challenge Tour.

"I would encourage anyone who has thought about riding to register now, as it is not everyday that you can say you have ridden with a true cycling legend. There is probably no better way we could commemorate the 10 year milestone of the Bupa Challenge Tour than having a cycling figure of Eddy's stature be involved," she said.

"We are also encouraging participants to remember to register to Ride for a Reason and assist in the fight against cancer. This is an opportunity to not only do something for you but others as well."

Participants in the Bupa Challenge Tour can once again ride as a team. To receive a team name printed onto the official Bupa Challenge Tour jersey, teams must be registered by 5pm, 31 October 2011, and have at least five riders.

All individual registrations close at 5pm (Adelaide time), Friday 6 January 2012.

Cycling fans also have the opportunity to see five time Tour de France winner, Eddy Merckx and his Belgium compatriot, Patrick Sercu, as special guests at the 2012 Legends' Night Dinner, on Saturday, January 21, 2012.

To register for the Bupa Challenge Tour or to book tickets to the Legends' Night Dinner, visit

The 2012 Santos Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from 15-22 January 2012.