Richie Porte, Rohan Dennis and Grace Brown will be among the top-tier riders lining up to take on four days of racing at the Santos Festival of Cycling in January 2022, with the European-based professionals lining up at the National Road Series event in South Australia alongside the nation's best domestic riders.
Porte will be trading his Ineos Grenadiers kit for that of Team Garmin Australia for a second year, where he’ll be racing alongside a rider he helped mentor toward a WorldTour contract, Luke Plapp. The 20 year old signed with Ineos Grenadiers after drawing attention in the 2021 Australian summer of racing with performances that included sticking to Porte's wheel on Willunga Hill, taking second as he clapped his teammate to a seventh victory on the hallmark climb of the race.
Brown – who is shifting from Team BikeExchange to FDJ Nouvelle-Aquitaine Futuroscope in 2022 – will also be leading the way at Team Garmin Australia, slotting into a role as a mentor at an event she first raced in 2017, before stepping up to the professional peloton and taking the position as Australia's top-ranked cyclist.
“South Australians and visiting cycling fans alike will this year have the opportunity to not only watch Australia’s best domestic cyclists but also a great selection of World Team riders bringing together a strong peloton for the 2022 Santos Festival of Cycling,” Santos Festival of Cycling Men’s Race Director, Stuart O’Grady, said in a statement.
“The inclusion of Grace, Richie and Luke in Australia’s national team will provide a wonderful opportunity for Australia’s next generation of champions – predominantly under 19 and first year under 23 riders – to mix with and learn from Australia’s current stars.”
Team BikeExchange Jayco will also be fielding teams at the event in 2022, with new signings Ruby Roseman-Gannon, Georgia Baker and Alexandra Manly lining up for the women’s race from January 23 to 26, while Luke Durbridge and Australian champion Cameron Meyer will be lining up in the men’s race from January 26 to 29.
Dennis will be lining up in the kit of his new team, Jumbo-Visma, alongside Chris Harper.
The event is, for a second year, running as a replacement for the WorldTour men's race and 2.Pro ranked Women’s Tour Down Under as the international races were cancelled in the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, which had resulted in border closures and strict quarantine restrictions. These restrictions are now easing, but too late to change course.
There was some speculation that the Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race could be looking to run a race around the Road World Championships being held in Wollongong in September. The Victorian event, however, has dismissed the option and the South Australian event has confirmed they are focussing on a return to international racing in 2023.
“The Santos Tour Down Under will return in January 2023, and we are looking forward to welcoming the UCI WorldTeams, media, cycling and sporting fans from around the world and Australia back to Adelaide and regional South Australia then,” said the South Australian Tourism Commission.
Although the race doesn’t have an international ranking in 2022, it still includes many of the elements of the top-tier events, from an ability for cycling fans to tune into race coverage to the terrain covered by the courses.
“As the first race in the Southern Hemisphere and the first race on the National Road Series event calendar, the new challenges and dynamic stages added to the 2022 Santos Festival of Cycling program will no doubt test the levels of the World Tour riders,” said Women’s Race Director Kimberley Conte.
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