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Tour Down Under preview

Begins with the old…

As for the course itself, it’s a case of something old, something new. And it begins with the old, the show starting Sunday with an exhibition-style race in Adelaide’s East End: a 51km criterium on a longish 2km circuit.

Times do not count towards the overall classification but the winner does receive the leader’s ochre jersey. After a day’s hiatus, the race kicks off for real in Prospect, a suburb in Adelaide’s north.

A profile that basically depicts a 149km haul uphill (though with a touch under 400 meters elevation change and a downhill run to the finish, it’s nothing overly onerous), the first stage of the TDU proper is likely to result in a bunch gallop.

Stage 2, 148km from Lobethal to Stirling, boasts a far bumpier route. History has shown the triplet of circuits around Stirling can, and may, split the peloton. The drawn out, uphill finishing drag is generally too burdensome for the pure sprinter, who usually hangs on for dear life in an effort to not lose time. It tends to be the most rousing stage before the likely denouement Saturday around the township of Willunga.

Stage 3 is another tried and true journey: Unley to Victor Harbor. A reasonably difficult 134.5km, but for the in-form sprinter, not troublesome enough to dislodge or break them.

History repeats itself again on Stage 4, a 130km traverse from Norwood to Tanunda, in spitting distance of the world famous Jacob’s Creek winery. With the GC men readying themselves for what lays ahead, opportunists can gain time over their more fancied rivals, and then attempt to preserve their gains the following day, like Cameron Meyer did on a similar stage last year en route to overall victory.

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