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by Mark Zalewski
January 17, 2017
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Chloe Hosking jumps up to top step of podium in hilly stage 3 of Santos Women’s Tour; Tour Down Under GC battle looms at Paracombe: ‘One of the hardest stages the TDU has seen’; Fractured clavicle ends Toon Aerts’ season; Riders react to Italian World Cup course; Wout van Aert shifts focus to world championship questionable for Hoogerheide; Fight for Giro d’Italia wildcard invite to be fierce; Pinarello responds to claims of intellectual property infringement; Vanmarcke reveals spring Classics programme; Devriendt has knee surgery; Video: 2017 Cylance Pro Cycling; The Road Less Traveled – Why do you ride gravel?; Steven Ceballos Urbano de Manizales jump.
The 2017 Santos Tour Down Under gets underway on Tuesday with a sprinter-friendly stage from Unley to Lyndoch, but it’s on the following day that the race really begins. On stage 2 the riders will cover 148.5km from Stirling to Paracombe in a race widely regarded as the tour’s queen stage. The steep 1.6km ramp to the finish in Paracombe is challenging enough, but it’s the tough kilometres that precede it that have most people talking. Former TDU winner Cameron Meyer (UniSA-Australia) described the stage as “probably one of the hardest stages that the Tour Down Under has seen”.
The stage begins with the difficult and now-familiar Stirling circuit, a 21.1km loop normally used to end TDU stages, before taking in more climbing on its way north towards Paracombe – the site of a stage finish in 2015.
“We’ve got five Stirlings, to go over the top of Mt Lofty, and also up the Gorge beforehand, so it’s a different race,” said Rohan Dennis (BMC) ahead of the 2017 TDU. “In 2015 it wasn’t that hard a course and it was a downhill run into [the final climb] so you [could] come into it a bit fresher and not be that pure climber to win.”
Dennis won on that day in 2015, bolting to victory on the final ramp to Paracombe ahead of team leader Cadel Evans. He would go on to win the tour overall.
Two years on, the Paracombe stage has had a facelift, making it considerably harder. This time around the run into the final climb is largely uphill — almost 10km of climbing before a short downhill and then the final ramp to the line.
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