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Significant changes to Tour Down Under as race returns in early 2023

Willunga Hill replaced by new climb, prologue time trial also makes debut.

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Returning for the first time after a two-year COVID-enforced break, the route of the men’s 2023 Santos Tour Down Under has been unveiled and sees two big changes to the previous format.

The iconic stage finish at Willunga Hill is absent from next year’s parcours, replaced instead by a final-day battle on Mount Lofty in the Adelaide Hills, which will make its TDU debut.

There are also changes to the start of the six-day race, with the first-ever prologue time trial to shape the early GC standings. This will be a 5.5 kilometer test on the streets of Adelaide, held on Wednesday January 18.

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“The 2023 race routes have been designed to test our cyclists like never before whilst taking fans to the heart of the action,” said former Australian professional and Tour Down Under race director Stuart O’Grady in the route announcement.

“The Santos Tour Down Under will open with an exciting new time trial. The EFEX Prologue around Adelaide’s Riverbank is an event first, taking place on a loop around the Torrens with each rider beginning on the Riverbank bridge and tackling the course individually. It’s man versus clock in this all-out effort.

“More event firsts include a formidable Mount Lofty finisher and a stunning beachside stage start at Brighton. All the race routes showcase South Australia at its very best, and we can’t wait welcome the international cycling community back to our state.”

Prologue and uphill finale aside, another key battleground will be on stage 3. The race from Norwood to Campbelltown will feature three testing climbs, namely Norton Summit, Checkers Hill and Corkscrew Road, with a short descent to the finish.

The three other days are stage 1’s expected sprint finish in Tanunda, stage 2’s lumpy Brighton to Victor Harbor and the penultimate day race between Port Willunga and Willunga Township.

The men’s race has been granted WorldTour status for the next three years, and was lauded by UCI President David Lappartient. “I am truly pleased to see the return of the men’s Santos Tour Down Under to the UCI WorldTour calendar in 2023,” he said. “After being cancelled two years running due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this race will again stand as the opening event of the UCI WorldTour, confirming its position in this series of the world’s most prestigious races.

“I know that the fantastic organization combined with the friendly South Australian welcome will guarantee an extraordinary experience for the riders and fans alike.”

Also on the WorldTour calendar will be the women’s Tour Down Under, which is stepping up to that level for the first time on its return.

The stages for the three day event are yet to be announced, but it will begin on Sunday January 15 and run until Tuesday January 17. The final stage will overlap with the men’s prologue, meaning that the two Tour Down Under events will comprise a full eight days of racing.

This block will be preceded by the usual Schwalbe Classic criterium, which does not count towards the general classification.

2023 Tour Down Under schedule

Saturday January 14: Schwalbe Classic, central Adelaide (for men and women)

Women’s WorldTour race:

Sunday January 15: Stage 1
Monday January 16: Stage 2
Tuesday January 17: Stage 3

Men’s WorldTour race:

Tuesday January 17: EFEX Prologue, Adelaide Riverbank (5.5km)
Wednesday January 18: Stage 1, Tanunda to Tanunda (150km)
Thursday January 19: Stage 2, Brighton to Victor Harbor (156km)
Friday January 20: Stage 3, Norwood to Campbelltown (118.5km)
Saturday January 21: Stage 4, Port Willunga to Willunga (135.3km)
Sunday January 22: Stage 5, Unley to Mount Lofty (114km)