Words and Images by Dave Lipnowski
On the way to the beach, I talked to a mother and her teenage son on the tram. I asked what sort of things my girlfriend can do in Adelaide while I’m in the countryside covering the races. They told us about the Free State Museum and the art gallery, which we went to the day before. I enjoy museums and galleries, but these have got to be some of the most boring I’ve ever seen. I’d normally say it’s not worth a stop, but honestly, there’s not anything else to see within the city.
They tell me that Adelaide is very boring to visit, but a great place to live.
The surrounding areas are beautiful, including the Barossa Valley, and Kangaroo Island. They certainly love their bicycles here though, which is clear by the art in and around the city. Paintings and bicycles, and other cycling related installations can be seen hung in many stores, restaurants and establishments, and not just at this time of the year around the Tour Down Under. Adelaide and the State of South Australia are crazy about their bikes.
A fan shows his love for cycling on his hat.
We get to the beach, and it’s beautiful. White-ish sands, green-ish water, and it’s not crowded, and it is easy to find a spot to put some towels down (unlike the popular beaches in Australia like the famous Bondi Beach near Sydney). Kids and adults alike are jumping off the pier, so I decide to join them. The southern water of Australia is cold, but finally some excitement on the rest day.
I wake up a little later than usual, as Stage 1 starts in a northern suburb of Adelaide about 20 minutes from the city centre. At 8AM it is already +30C, and quite humid. Today is going to hurt, though it is likely one of the hottest days of the week. I head to the media centre to look for media updates, slop on some sunscreen, and grab a lot of drinks. I’m meeting Theo and Arianna of www.cyclenation.com.au, and we are driving the route together all week.
Media vehicles are required to have at least 3 passengers so I’m thrown into the carpool with this married couple/team. Luckily, they are very nice and cool people covering the tour for their 3rd time. They are from South Africa, and have been living in Sydney for the past 5 years. They have quite a bit of knowledge about the race, and the areas it goes through, which should be a big help.
Media vehicles are required to have at least 3 passengers so I’m thrown into the carpool with this married couple/team. Luckily, they are very nice and cool people covering the tour for their 3rd time.
We drive to the town/suburb of Prospect for the 11AM start, and there are thousands of sweaty cycling fans lining the streets.
Fans are hot, prior to the start of the race.
Fans check out a team bike leaning against a barricade prior to the start of the race.
The team vehicles are all parked near the fan barricades, and many of the riders go over and sign autographs and chat with their fans. No bikinis though, I’m a little disappointed.
Stuart O’ Grady spends a lot of time with his fans, that’s nice to see.
Alessandro Petacchi is being interviewed prior to the start, and he says that it’s “very hot”. As the riders go up and sign in, Tour Hostess Lauren tries to make small talk with the riders. She speaks with the Italian Katusha rider, Giampaolo Caruso , “is it hot enough for you?”. I was expecting a witty reply like “not as hot as you” or something like that, but yet again I hear those familiar words in broken English: ” I don’t speak English”. I’m disappointed boys. I have met a lot of German, French, Dutch, and other European’s in my 8 months of travelling, and I’ve managed to learn a few key lines in all of their languages.
Tour Hostess Lauren, tries to make small talk with the riders. She speaks with the Italian Katusha rider, Giampaolo Caruso , “is it hot enough for you?”.
Prior to the start of the race, many of the riders have packed themselves into the team vehicles to escape the heat of the relentless South Australian sun. Riders could be seen applying liberal amounts of sunscreen, and team staff could also be seen applying sunscreen to a few of the pro cyclists as well. It must be nice to get to such a high level of sport where you have people to apply sunscreen for you. We are not talking about putting sunscreen on their backs, where one might not be able to reach. I’m talking about on their necks and faces. Most riders are looking very relaxed, smiling and joking around with teammates and support staff.
It must be nice to get to such a high level of sport where you have people to apply sunscreen for you.
Andre Greipel & Alessandro Petacchi are looking relaxed prior to the start of the stage 1 in Prospect.
The race starts at Prospect, and heads 149km north to Clare, at the northern tip of the Barossa Valley. I had a chance to drive part of this route into the wine region last week, and it is quite beautiful. It’s interesting to see kilometers of yellow grass that looks completely dry and dead, and out of nowhere bright green vineyards appear within the sea of yellow grass.
After covering the start of the race, my colleagues and I hop into the car and make our way towards the middle of the race route, and we run into extremely heavy traffic as fans lining the roads with their vehicles pull back onto the roads. We briefly see the peloton far in the distance from the top of an overpass.
The first look I got of the race, from the top of an overpass for a few seconds.
We continue our journey, and stop at a Y-shaped intersection on the way to Riverton, deciding this would be our first stop to see the race. There was a large hay stack marked an arrow pointing to Riverton, and I decided it would be a good idea to climb the tall stack to get a better vantage point. It was a great view, but soon after climbing to the top, I noticed that my arms and legs were bleeding from being scratched by the hay (the things I do to provide you with pretty pictures). In addition to the scratches, I am now sneezing uncontrollably. By this time the temperature was +42C. About 50-60 fans were lining the road, in the-middle-of-nowhere, Australia, as the 4-man lead group made up of Katusha rider Eduard Vorganov, BMC’s Martin Kohler, Vaconsoleil-DCM’s Marcello Pavarin, and, and Uni-SA’s Rohan Dennis came by at 2:09 pm, three hours into the stage, having left the peloton right off the gun. The breakaway now had a 4.5 minute gap from the peloton, having once had well over ten minutes. Strong winds meant the race was a half hour later than expected.
Katusha rider Eduard Vorganov, BMC’s Martin Kohler, Vaconsoleiol-DCM’s Marcello Pavarin, and, and Uni-SA’s Rohan Dennis made up the breakaway group that launched off the pack from the start.
The peloton passes by fields at the turnoff to Riverton amongst sweltering +42C temperatures Tuesday afternoon.
We had to go directly from our scenic photo spot near Riverton to the finish line in Clare. Driving towards Clare, it was fantastic to see fans dressed up, and having a great time by the roadside, most with wine or beer in hand.
I was issued the wrong colour media vest, bright orange, not the green photographers’ vest I should have had, so the vest not only clashed with my outfit, but also had me very close to the finish line, meaning I had to shoot very wide.
Thousands of people were at the finish line to witness Andre Greipel win the stage in a group sprint finish, basically a duel between Greipel (left) and Petacchi (right).
Petacchi was actually announced as the winner as they crossed the line, but I checked the image on the back of my camera, it was very clear that Greipel had it. The Mayor of Clare presented Greipel with a traditional Australian outback drivers coat.
The Mayor of Clare presented Greipel with a traditional Australian outback drovers coat.
Andre Greipel has won the Down Under Classic, and now Stage 1. What else can we expect from him this week?
The sun was nowhere to be seen at this point, and the temperatures cooled down as a storm front approached. This eased the heat significantly, hopefully a precursor of thing to come this week.
Tomorrow’s stage 2 of the Tour Down Under starts in Lobethal, and finishes in Stirling.
Stage 1 Results
1. Andrй Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 4:33:40
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre – ISD
3. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ – BigMat
4. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas – Cannondale
5. Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan
6. Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling
7. Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo Bank
8. Xavier Florencio Cabrи (Spa) Katusha
9. Mark Renshaw (Aus) Rabobank
10. Manuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
1. Andrй Greipel (Ger) Lotto-Belisol 4:33:30
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre – ISD 0:00:04
3. Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC
4. Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ – BigMat 0:00:06
5. Rohan Dennis (Aus) UNI SA – Australia 0:00:07
6. Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha 0:00:08
7. Marcello Pavarin (Ita) Vacansoleil -DCM 0:00:09
8. Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas – Cannondale 0:00:10
9. Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan
10. Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Procycling