Richie Porte crossing the finish line to win stage five of the 2017 Tour Down Under on Willunga Hill. (AAP: Dan Peled)
The final stage of next year’s Tour Down Under is likely to come down to the wire, with the finish line moved from its usual city location to the Willunga Hill stage.
In the past, the tour concluded with an Adelaide street circuit finish, but race director Mike Turtur decided to replace the final stage with the iconic hill climb for 2019.
A decision to move the Willunga Hill stage to the final day of the event was partly influenced by concerns about a large number of construction projects in the city.
Mr Turtur said it would mean the race would not be decided until the last kilometre.
“Obviously now with the reintroduction of the corkscrew and Willunga now moving to the last day, that format change really does take the race to the wire,” he said.
“You can be 30 seconds down a rider in the past, impossible to win on the last day, but now you can be 30 seconds down and still win the race, so it’s opening up 10 or 20 possibilities on the day.”
Cyclists race up Willunga Hill during stage five of the race in 2016. (ABC News: Alina Eacott)
Highlights include stage one finish in Port Adelaide
The first day of the tour will start in North Adelaide for just the second time in its 21-year history, and Mr Turtur said other highlights of the 2019 route would include a stage one finish in Port Adelaide, and a new circuit in Uraidla in stage three.
“It’s a 14-kilometre circuit in the sort of style of a world championship arrangement where people could set themselves up around the circuit and see the riders multiple times,” he said.
Mr Turtur didn’t reveal any big names of cyclists who will race in next year’s Tour Down Under but suggested it would be a “super line up”.
“We’re working on it,” Mr Turtur said.
“I think now the Tour [de France] finished and we’ve entered the final phase of the season, it’s the time where we start talking in more detail but I think come January, people will be really surprised and looking forward to the race.”
- Classic: East End Circuit (51 km)
- Stage 1: North Adelaide to Port Adelaide (132.4 km)
- Stage 2: Norwood to Angaston (149 km)
- Stage 3: Lobethal to Uraidla (146.2 km)
- Stage 4: Unley to Campbelltown (129.2 km)
- Stage 5: Glenelg to Strathalbyn (149.5 km)
- Stage 6: McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill (151.5 km)
Mr Turtur has been the driving force behind the Tour Down Under, and held the role of race director since its inception in 1999.
He said while his time at the helm would be coming to an end, this wouldn’t be his last tour.
“Things have to change sooner or later. You can’t do it forever, but we’ve been secession planning for some time now so it’s not as if it’s going to be a big surprise,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here and it’s been fantastic but I’ll be around for a couple more yet.”
Tourism Minister David Ridgway said the tour was the state’s “lycra-led economic stimulus” and last year attracted 46,000 visitors.
“It showcases the state to the world, well over $60 million of economic benefit each year,” Mr Ridgway said.
“We’ve had 20 great years and I’m looking forward to the next 20 great years.”
The race routes for the women’s Tour Down Under will be announced in September.
The 2019 Tour Down Under will be held in Adelaide and regional South Australia from January 10-20, 2019.