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BIG THINGS GROW.

 

Today, with some justification, the Tour Down Under (TDU) promotes itself as ‘the biggest cycling race in the southern hemisphere’. Its status as the first non-European event to earn UCI World Tour status stripes, the quality and depth of the competing teams, the humongous crowds in Adelaide, the incredible atmosphere, and the sizeable income the event drives leaves it hard to counter this slogan.

 

The race’s distinctive slot in the cycling calendar is a draw, notably for the European riders. November, the glorious four-week window of binge drinking, Jägerbombs and burger stacks now a foggy memory. Lonely Christmas training camps, marked by evenings spent watching Breaking Bad boxsets and negotiating an intermittent Facetime connection endured. Southern Australia’s warm weather and the race’s short, intense schedule are ideal ingredients to reboot. And let’s face it, nobody wants to be in Europe in January.

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AN AUSSIE AFFAIR.

 

Back in 1999, the first Tour comprised six stages over 762 kilometers, already establishing Adelaide as a fixed departure and arrival point. That race, unlike the first Tour or Giro, is not yet etched in the annals of cycling history. In fact, there’s not even a Wikipedia entry in the English language. Winner of two of the six étapes and the overall classification, was the durable classics specialist, and local hero, Stuart O’Grady. A pattern was set. The Australian race became the race for Australian riders. Better suited to the climate, devoid of jet-lag and with the extra pounds of motivation, Aussies have taken all but seven of the 18 races to date. Comprising O’Grady’s double success – he again triumphed in 2001 – Michael Rogers, Patrick Jonker, Allan Davis, Cameron Meyer, Rohan Dennis and four-time winner, and defending champion, Simon Gerrans have all framed the fabled Ochre jersey above their pool room couch.

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21 JUMP STREET.

O’Grady, from strong cycling lineage, was a fitting winner of the first race. His father was a South Australian rider of pedigree and his uncle competed for the Australian track cycling team in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Achieved over a 12-year period, O’Grady himself boasts a clean sweep of Olympic medals. The Tour Down Under was kind to O’Grady. He met his wife – a former model – on a TDU podium and after retiring in 2013, has retained his connection with the race. Offering individuals ready to part with a not insignificant fee a unique perspective of the competition, comprising wine tours and fine dining. The 21 seconds he prevailed over the Dane Jesper Skibby in 1999 has guaranteed his place in the event’s folklore. One day there may even be a Wikipedia page in its honour.

 

 

 

THIS IS AN EXTRACT FROM A STORY THAT FIRST APPEARED IN OBSESSION, DISTRIBUTED EXCLUSIVELY WITH EACH BLACK SHEEP CYCLING LIMITED SEASON OR AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE ONLINE HERE.

 

 
 
 
 

BLACK SHEEP POPUP.

The 19th edition of the Tour Down Under – 14-22 January, 2017 tourdownunder.com.au. Black Sheep will host a pop-up at Cycle Closet 122 Pirie St, Adelaide 16-23 January 2017.

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