Santos Tour Down Under: A week of good cheer

If vou’re an Australian cycling fan, there’s only one place to be the second week in January – Adelaide. If you weren’t able to make it to the Festival of Cycling this year, hopefully we’ll convince you that it should be the top of your list of places to be next January.

This event is so fan friendly with opportunities aplenty to meet your heroes and heroines of the cycling world, grab a selfie or enjoy a coffee in their company, ride with them (providing you can keep up) to and from certain stages, and even compete over the same parcours, albeit in advance of the peloton. Love cycling but don’t ride? No problem, the various circuits around the towns, big screens and short distances from start to finish towns provide ample opportunities for spectators of all ages to enjoy the cycling.

The Fans

I was once again amazed at the size of the crowds and how many of them were on two wheels. I took time to chat with a few of the groups to learn a bit more about their club and their kit.

Here’s Ray and David Wickstein, two brothers who’d made the journey to Adelaide with eight others. They both work for ASC, which built and now maintains the Collins Class submarines in Southern and Western Australia. Despite the grisly image on the kit, the Collins Class is the second largest non-nuclear powered submarine in the world. Surprising how much you learn about matters non-cycling at these events!

The Wickstein Bros (image: Richard Whatley)

The Wickstein Bros (image: Richard Whatley)

The Eaton Home Hardware Dogs (below) is a social race team within the 30-strong South West Cycle Club. It was the second time they’d travelled from their home in Banbury, South Perth to Adelaide to watch the TDU and to get some riding in with like-minded fans. Pictured here are Hugh Thomson, Darren Wallis, Amy van Dijk and Mark Thomas.

No trouble spotting these guys (and gal) on the road (image: Richard Whatley)

No trouble spotting these guys (and gal) on the road (image: Richard Whatley)

The Ofals (Old Fellas in Lycra) were from Cairns in Queensland, and it was their second year at the TDU. and they confessed they were more of a drinking than a racing team! We caught them in action – although it was still early enough in the day that they only thing they were drinking was coffee.

Cheers! (image: Richard Whatley)

Cheers! (image: Richard Whatley)

We spotted riders from the Fat Boys Cycling Club, who hail from Upper Norwood in Adelaide, on the road most days. I rather like their tongue-in-cheek kit. The team, which was set up in 1995 and has its own website, rides together most weekends. The team set up camp atop Willunga and grilled snags (sausages) as they waited for the riders to tackle the climb.

The Fat Boys (image: Richard Whatley)

The Fat Boys (image: Richard Whatley)

Of course, no Tour Down Under is complete without the fire-breathing charm of Crikey Cadel, the hardest-working croc in pro cycling. As always, he was cheering on his favourite team, BMC.

Crikey Cadel (image: Richard Whatley)

Crikey Cadel (image: Richard Whatley)

And of course, there’s the pro peloton being put through their paces – the crowds by the roadside and at the barriers just keep growing, year on year, and I’m sure there will be record numbers for the TDU’s 20th edition next year. See you there?

Header image: Fans waving the flag as the peloton goes by ©GETTY/Corbis Sport/KT 

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