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More than 20 years after winning the inaugural Tour Down Under, Stuart O’Grady has been revealed as the race’s new director.
A professional racer of 19 years, O’Grady won Australia’s biggest race on two occasions — in 1999 and 2001. O’Grady will take over the race director role ahead of the 2021 Tour Down Under, but will work with outgoing director Mike Turtur in the build-up to January’s 2020 edition. Turtur has directed the race since its inception in 1999.
South Australia’s Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment David Ridgway hailed the announcement as an exciting step forward for the WorldTour race.
“Stuart is a proud South Australian, and an international professional cyclist who comes to this role with significant endorsements from the international cycling community,” he said. “Having Stuart working closely with Mike Turtur this year will provide him with a strong platform and transition on which to build his own style of race for 2021.
“The appointment of a home-grown cycling legend ensures the Santos Tour Down Under will be passionately guided into its next era, after the extraordinary leadership of Mike Turtur for more than two decades.”
For O’Grady — the first Australian to win Paris-Roubaix, in 2007 — the role is nothing short of a career highlight.
“My appointment to this role really is the pinnacle in my career,” he said. “I have lived my life and career with the international cycling community, so this is a defining professional and personal moment for me.
“I’m excited that I will be delivering a race in my hometown, with one that I competed in, won, and have watched grow its cycling participation and fan-base over the years. I am looking forward to developing my vision, and a creative race that will lead to the ongoing growth of the men’s competition and to the overall race itself.”
Outgoing race director Mike Turtur said the race couldn’t be in better hands.
“We needed the right person, experience, fit, and someone who had an appetite to deliver a vision and really embrace the race with their own personality and someone ready to put their own stamp on it,” he said. “[O’Grady] has terrific experience, networks and relationships globally, which will also bring new opportunities to the race and for South Australia.
“Stuart’s enthusiasm and energy and his desire to keep evolving the event as Australia’s greatest cycling race and one of the most respected races on the WorldTour calendar is a key ingredient to the success of his appointment.”
Turtur will stay on in a mentoring role for 12 months, through to the 2021 event.
O’Grady began his pro road career in 1995 and raced through until the 2013 season. He competed in the Tour de France 17 times and wore the yellow jersey of race leader in 1998 and 2001. He also raced on the track, winning two world titles and four Olympic medals, including a gold medal in the Madison at the 2004 Athens Games (with Graeme Brown).