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The Santos Tour Down Under is set for a shake-up in 2019 with the event’s iconic Willunga Hill queen stage being moved to the final day of racing.
In recent years, the Willunga summit finish has fallen on the penultimate day of the Tour followed by a circuit race in central Adelaide. The 2019 change means that the battle for the general classification will be live until the final moments of the tour.
Race director Mike Turtur said he and his team were keen to freshen things up for the 21st edition of Australia’s only WorldTour stage race.
“We knew we had to create something special for the 2019 event and deliver something a little different in terms of the race routes after the amazing race we had this year,” Turtur said. “We have decided to mix it up and make Willunga Hill the grand finale and probably now the deciding factor of the race’s result.
“It is important as a race that we keep everyone guessing and the riders challenged. We can’t be complacent.”
The 2019 Tour Down Under will begin on Sunday January 13 with the now-traditional People’s Choice Classic, a 51km curtain-raiser criterium. The TDU proper will begin on Tuesday January 15 with the first of six road stages in and around Adelaide, concluding with the Willunga stage on the Sunday.
The general classification is most likely to be decided by stages 4 and 6. Stage 4 sees the return of the steep Corkscrew Road climb just 5km from the finish, while stage 6 features two ascents of Willunga, the last of which will end the tour.
Stage 1: North Adelaide to Port Adelaide – One for the sprinters.
Stage 2: Norwood to Angaston – An uphill drag to the line, but still likely a sprint finish.
Stage 3: Lobethal to Uraidla – A lumpy stage that might suit a breakaway, or a reduced sprint.
Stage 4: Unley to Campbelltown – The tough Corkscrew Road climb should thin the field to a handful of riders (or fewer).
Stage 5: Glenelg to Strathalbyn – Another one for the sprinters. Could be affected by crosswinds.
Stage 6: McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill – The queen stage. The race will be decided here.
The 2019 Santos Tour Down Under carnival runs from January 10-20 and comprises both the men’s WorldTour event and the four-day Santos Women’s Tour.