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After the cancellation of the Tour Down Under in October, the Australian cycling community suddenly found itself with a gaping hole in its January.
Today, the Santos Tour Down Under organisers unveiled details of a multi-day, multi-disciplinary Festival of Cycling. Due to travel restrictions preventing teams from arriving from abroad, it’s an entirely domestic event to be held over six days, from Tuesday 19 January to Sunday 24 January.
At the core of the Santos Festival of Cycling is a new four-stage National Road Series (NRS) race, for both men and women, which will be the closest parallel to the cancelled Santos Tour Down Under.
Running from Thursday 21 January to Sunday 24 January, the event will traverse some familiar terrain, most notably on the Saturday:
Thursday 21 January: Ziptrak Stage 1 – Seppeltsfield to Tanunda (Men: 106.8km / Women 80.7km)
Friday 22 January: Stage 2 – Birdwood to Lobethal (Men: 116km / Women 97.3km)
Saturday 23 January: Be Safe Be Seen Stage 3 – McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill (Men: 88.2km / Women 48.8km)
Sunday 24 January: Trek Stage 4 – Victoria Park Adelaide (criteriums)
But event organisers have broadened their horizons, in partnership with Australian cycling’s newly formed governing body, AusCycling, to deliver something for most disciplines of the sport. The 2021 Santos Festival of Cycling will incorporate Cyclo-Cross, BMX, Track, Paracycling and Mountain Biking.
On 19 January, the Adelaide Superdrome will host the Adelaide Track League, with a packed line-up of young and emerging track riders. Spectators will be well catered for, with food trucks and local beer and wine vendors showcasing Adelaide’s renowned gastronomic scene.
On 22 January (6pm) the AMBC XCC short track race will be held at Eagle MTB Park.
On 23 January (3pm-9pm) Port Adelaide Cycling Club will host Summer ‘Cross, one of the few cyclocross races that have been able to take place in Australia since the pandemic began. The National CX series and National Championships were both called off for 2020, so Summer ‘Cross seems certain to be a hard-fought affair – albeit in some drier, warmer conditions than the discipline normally sees.
Closing out the event on the 24 January, the Paracycling Wheelrace will take place at Victoria Park alongside the fourth stage of the NRS race, while the Summer Showdown BMX event will take place at Cove BMX Track.
Finally, the Challenge Tour – a mass participation ride held in conjunction with the Tour Down Under – will be held entirely digitally this year, in collaboration with FulGaz. Details are to be confirmed.
A Covid-normal event
With one of the pillars of South Australia’s summer having been removed, event organisers will hope that the Festival of Cycling will entice visitors from around Australia. “It is important to now look forward and do what we can to celebrate Adelaide and our beautiful regions, support our local businesses and communities, showcase what is great about our state and keep the heart beating in South Australia this summer,” said Executive Director of Events South Australia, Hitaf Rasheed.
Australia enters summer in a fortunate position with regards to COVID-19, but there will be little room for complacency at the Festival of Cycling. As part of the festival’s COVID-management plan, there will be limited entry to road race starts and finishes, with a free ticket required for access. Other events will also be ticketed. These are available from Monday 14 December at www.tourdownunder.com.au/ticketing.
“South Australia has a strong track record in delivering world class events, which create jobs and deliver substantial economic benefit to the state. To be able to pivot, innovate, and deliver a high calibre event, in a new COVID-normal environment, for all Australians to enjoy is particularly exciting,” said South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall.
For more details on the Santos Festival of Cycling, visit here.