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by Shane Stokes
January 23, 2018
Gaviria takes stage 1 of the Vuelta a San Juan; Nibali’s new programme emerges following DNS in San Juan; ‘A plate holding my eye in place:’ Stewart has delicate operation after Tour Down Under crash; TDU winner Impey to lead Mitchelton-Scott in Cadel Evans race, Chaves to make 2018 debut; Strong fields for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Races and Towards Zero Race Melbourne; Opinion: Why time bonuses are crucial to the balance of the Tour Down Under; Video: This is Cycling; Video: Cormet de Roselend via Col du Pré – Cycling Inspiration & Education
Love them or hate them, time bonuses are a defining feature of the Santos Tour Down Under. Riders that finish in the top three on each stage earn a healthy deduction from their GC time – 10 seconds for the winner, six seconds for second, and four seconds for third. Each intermediate sprint offers bonus seconds as well.
These time bonuses have had a demonstrable impact on the race’s honour roll, most recently in the 20th edition which finished yesterday. Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) was crowned the overall winner, having finished on the same time as Richie Porte (BMC). Were it not for time bonuses, Porte would have won the Tour.
Every year there are discussions at the Tour Down Under about the role of time bonuses and whether the race needs them. Why, the argument goes, should Richie Porte have to settle for second place when he had the lowest overall time?
It’s a reasonable question. Ultimately, though, time bonuses are a vital ingredient to the success of the Tour Down Under.
In the early days of the Tour Down Under, the sprinters reigned supreme. The race didn’t have uphill finishes like it does today and fastmen like Andre Greipel were able to win the race overall. In that era, time bonuses helped to separate the many riders that would finish the tour with the same overall time, all while rewarding riders that reached the podium each day.
Click through to read the full opinion piece on CyclingTips, and to leave your own thoughts on the subject.