This is one of the most picturesque stages in the Tour Down Under, taking riders along the coast, through McLaren Vale and part of its wine region before heading over to the leafy town of Stirling.
Wickhams Hill Rd is another section of the day's parcours with the potential to be a launching pad for a break that fancies its chances on the undulating run to Stirling; as the stage profile suggests, there's plenty of variation in the terrain in the second half of the 132.5km.
The finishing circuits around Stirling are also relatively tough, and often riders will try their luck late in the stage - the bergs surrounding one of Adelaide's favourite regional towns are sharp and leave a sting in the legs, perfect for testing out the competition.
Allan Davis won this stage last year, with the uphill finish proving a little too taxing for the likes of McEwen, Brown and O'Grady. Look out for the Astana recruit to do the same in '10 as he chases his second Down Under title.
Team Milram's Luke Roberts says:
I haven't actually done a finish in Stirling; when I saw that on the stage map I thought, 'It's going to be a tough finish coming up from Mylor'. It's several kilometres of a gradual uphill drag. There are a couple of steep parts in the last kilometre but the whole finale is tough.
In this stage, first you have to get up the Southern Expressway, in the middle of the stage we go up Wickhams Hill Rd; I've done the state championship here in South Australia where we actually come down that hill. I know how quick we were coming down that road so I thought that we'd better go and check that one out!
It's basically the same hill range as Old Willunga Hill - more of less the same climb - it's going to take nearly 10 minutes to get over it and it's quite steep. It's a tough climb in the middle of the stage: two decent climbs already before we even come onto the finishing circuit in Stirling, and then three laps around there... when you come into the final laps the action will start, no matter what.
When the guys see that finish line they start going for it - they don't care how far it is until the stage actually finishes. Those laps are going to be really fast and hard and I think that stage will be where the classification is decided, probably more so than Willunga.
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