No Willunga Hill: Men’s Tour Down Under set for a shake-up in 2023

Changes are afoot for the first WorldTour race of next season.

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After a two-year absence from the WorldTour calendar due to COVID restrictions, the men’s Santos Tour Down Under returns in 2023 with some significant changes.

Gone is the iconic Willunga Hill summit finish that has acted as the race’s final GC challenge since 2012. In its place is a final-stage visit to Mount Lofty in the Adelaide Hills, which, while not as tough as the Willunga climb, will still provide an uphill finish to the Tour.

At the other end of the six-stage race, the men’s Tour Down Under will start with a prologue time trial for the first time ever – a technical 5.5 km test along the banks of the River Torrens in the heart of Adelaide.

The other stage likely to define the GC is stage 3 from Norwood to Campbelltown which will feature three of Adelaide’s most significant ascents: Norton Summit, Checkers Hill and Corkscrew Road. That final climb comes inside the final 10 km of the stage, and is followed by a descent to the finish in Campbelltown.

In all, the men’s Tour Down Under will comprise a curtain-raiser criterium (which doesn’t affect the race’s GC), the prologue time trial, then five road stages.

The women’s Tour Down Under also returns in 2023, now as a WorldTour event for the first time. Route details are yet to be announced, but the race is expected to take place over three stages, plus the same curtain-raiser criterium the men will contest.

The Tour Down Under is set to be the first event on the men’s and women’s WorldTour calendar for 2023. It’s also the first time the event proper will be directed by Stuart O’Grady, who took up the reins in 2021. Both editions since then have been run as part of Australia’s domestic racing competition, the National Road Series.

2023 Tour Down Under schedule

Saturday January 14 – Schwalbe Classic (men and women)
Sunday January 15 – Women’s Stage 1
Monday January 16 – Women’s Stage 2
Tuesday January 17 – Women’s Stage 3 & Men’s Prologue
Wednesday January 18 – Men’s Stage 1 (Tanunda to Tanunda)
Thursday January 19 – Men’s Stage 2 (Brighton to Victor Harbor)
Friday January 20 – Men’s Stage 3 (Norwood to Campbelltown)
Saturday January 21 – Men’s Stage 4 (Port Willunga to Willunga Township)
Sunday January 22 – Men’s Stage 5 (Unley to Mount Lofty)

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