By Mark Eggleton
With just under a month to go, now is the time to prepare for a few summer days in South Australia during the Santos Tour Down Under (January 14-22). It’s South Australia’s premier cycling event, with street parties, bike-related celebrations and the state’s signature food and wine adding a flourish to dinners, street parties and festivities along the way.
It’s the biggest of its kind in the southern hemisphere and the first race of the UCI World Tour season attracting more than 750,000 spectators.
International attention and events galore
The nine-day Santos Tour Down Under has grown enormously from the grassroots event that began in 1999 as a platform to grow tourism in South Australia. As the premier Australian cycling race, it commands international attention, with top teams and riders competing each year. Surrounding the on-road action is a festival of cycling. A welcoming party atmosphere is created in Adelaide and across the regions hosting race stages, and fans are invited to be part of associated events such as the Bupa Challenge Tour and Legends’ Night Dinner.
Now while the riding is what it’s all about, especially with current UCI world road champion Peter Sagan competing, there are so many other activities associated with the Tour beyond spectating. For those keen on getting on their bikes there’s the Bupa Challenge Tour involving a day on Bupa Stage 4 of the tour. The beauty of it is you don’t have to actually ride for the whole day. There are numerous points where you can join the ride and ensure you still have enough left in the tank for the more important activities of the day such as eating and maybe sampling some South Australian wine.
Throughout the tour, the Tour Village located in Adelaide’s CBD is the heart and soul of the event, the place to go to immerse yourself in all things Santos Tour Down Under and cycling. It’s an opportunity to watch the team mechanics at work, test ride the newest bikes, watch the race on the big screen, check out the latest cycling equipment and taste great South Australian produce.
Loading up on carbs and coffee
And tasting great local produce should be one of the key activities for anyone following the Tour. With race days not starting until around 10.30am (at the earliest) and most starts in easy reach of the Adelaide CBD, stocking up before a day of touring is of immense importance. This is where after a night of carousing in some of Adelaide’s wonderful small bars such as Mr Goodbar or NOLA in the city’s east end or Maybe Mae or Clever Little Tailor on Peel and Leigh Streets, it’s important to refuel with carbs and coffee for breakfast.
The Adelaide CBD is full of wonderful small cafes but venture further afield (and closer to the starting line each day) and there’s also plenty to try. With Hostworks Stage 1 kicking off in Unley, head to Pollen 185 on King William Road or The Field Wholefoods – both super healthy and serving great coffee. Stick around until 4pm and the Unley Gourmet Gala is one of the largest street-based food and wine festivals in the state.
The following day’s stage kicks-off in Stirling and meanders through the Adelaide Hills, so the day could start at any number of cafes in Stirling or you could head straight for the hills for a day of cool climate wine tasting and some of South Australia’s finest culinary experiences.
By the time Hansgrohe Stage 3 arrives, a light breakfast on the beach at Glenelg is probably in order followed by a long lingering lunch at Leonards Mill on the Fleurieu Peninsula. It’s one of the nation’s best regional dining experiences and you shouldn’t miss it.
Bupa Stage 4 and the numerous cafes and restaurants along The Parade at Norwood beckon with chef Quentin Whittle’s creations at Stone’s Throw worth trying. Arrive the night before and the Norwood on Tour Street Party features food and entertainment until late.
And finally, you’re back in Adelaide on the final day for a late start and an afternoon of street circuit racing starting and finishing on the edge of the CBD. It might be one of the hottest tickets in town, but the rooftop 2KW bar will provide one of the finest views of the racing as the race draws to a close on Elder Park – just a wee stroll across North Terrace down below.
2017 Santos Tour Downunder
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Virgin Australia flies to Adelaide from all major Australian cities. Most major hire car companies are at Adelaide Airport.