Team time trial on the agenda for Tour Down Under

With 20 editions of the Tour Down Under now completed, the first significant change to the race since the introduction of the Willunga Hill finish has been placed on the table by Mike Turtur.

Speaking to assembled media the morning after the 2018 Tour Down Under was won by Daryl Impey, the race director confirmed that a team time trial will be included on the race menu “sooner or later”.

The delay in adding a race against the clock to the parcours is largely due to the necessity of acquiring dispensation from the UCI to use road bikes in the time trial.

"It will happen in the future, but when, I don’t know," Turtur said. "But certainly a team time trial over an individual time trial. It would be a better fit for our race."

Planning where and when in the race the team time trial would be held is still in the early stages, but Turtur is confident it will add a new dimension to the race, adding the caveat that road stages are still the bread and butter of the Tour Down Under.

"You have to be very careful in the planning of a team time trial or individual time trial. Several years ago you saw Tony Martin win the opening stage in Beijing and the race was over. So distance, discipline, are aspects you really have to think about as some teams are better at it than others. It is a good spectacle if it can be staged correctly with the right infrastructure and information. It is something that will happen sooner or later."

The current sticking point for Turtur and the race organisation in planning a team time trial is securing the seal of approval from the UCI. As the first race on the WorldTour calendar and half a world away from the bases of the WorldTour teams, it is not feasible to fly time trial bikes to Australia for a single stage.

Turtur explained that dialogue has been opened between the race and UCI to secure an exemption for the use of road bikes.

"In a WorldTour race, teams must use the bikes. There are some discussions which need to take place to get dispensation from the UCI to make it happen," he said of the rules regarding time trial bikes. "The bike you start the tour on and the helmet you wear is the one you do the time trial on. I don’t think teams would have any drama with it and it would still look good."

With 12 councils expressing interest in stage starts and finishes of the race next year, Turtur is likely to be spoiled for choice when planning the team time trial location. Turtur’s contract as race director ends after the 2019 edition of the race, and with no strong commitment when asked several times if he will continue past 21 Tours Down Under, a team time trial stage could be his parting gift to the race.

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