Race Preview: Santos Tour Down Under

New kits have been revealed, team rosters have been announced, and just like that we are ready for the 2023 season to get underway! Luckily, the first WorldTour race of the season is only days away with the start of the Santos Tour Down Under. 

The race will consist of 3 days, with a criterium the day before to get the festivities started. The Women’s Santos Tour Down Under will kick off on Sunday, January 15 and end Tuesday, January 17th

The Route

The first race of the season will begin with 13 teams racing the Schwalbe Classic in Victoria Square, giving the peloton a chance to stretch their legs after the winter off-season. Following the Saturday preview, the main course will consist of 3 stages, in and around Adelaide along the Southern coast of Australia. Stages will feature a Best Young Rider competition, a points classification, and a Queen of the Mountain competition, before completing the 293.6km on Tuesday, January 17th to award the first champion of the 2023 Women’s WorldTour season. 

 

Stage-by-Stage Guide

Stage 1 – Glenelg -> Aldinga (110.4km) 

Ziptrak Women’s Stage 1 begins in Glenelg and ends in Aldinga for a 110.4km trek along the coast. This first stage will be the longest day in the saddle for the pro women, with the first and only Efex Queen of the Mountain of the stage, taking place at 34.4km in. Two intermediate sprints are next on the ballot, located on the main road at Wilunga Show Hall, first at 53.8km in, and then after looping around for a second time at 93.2km. These two sprint lines will be a good test for the sprint favorites in the bunch to test their speed against their rivals ahead of the finish. 

The Fleurieu Peninsula region boasts great wine and food for cycling fans, dotted along the crystal blue waters of the coast as they catch the peloton whizzing by. 

After flying through the second sprint line, less than 20 km remain before the finale where teams will fight for the win and the first GC leader of the race. 

 

 

Stage 2 – Birdwood -> Uraidla (90km) 

Day 2 will take the women for a reverse route of the men’s stage 5 race, through the Adelaide Hills that should favor a punchy climber. Racing up the backside of the iconic Mt. Lofty, the climb is expected to cause splits in the peloton and a chance for the punchy climbers, or classic riders to advance up in GC. The stage consists of 1631m of climbing before completing the shorted stage of the race. 

The route will again include 2 intermediate sprints, with the first taking place at 34.5km in, on Kersbrook, quickly followed by the first of two Queen of the Mountain points at North East Ridge, a category 2, 980m climb. 

The peloton will preview the finish before the second intermediate sprint at 75.3km before hitting the 6.1km category 1, Mt. Lofty summit before racing down for what is expected to be a punchy, aggressive finish for the all-rounders. 

 

 

Stage 3 – Adelaide -> Campbelltown (93.2km) 

Australia saved the best for last, including the ascent up the famous Corkscrew Road. The final day will feature a grueling 1773m of climbing. This first objective of the 2023 season will be sure to test the legs, setting the stage for the Classics that lay ahead in the spring. 

As the finale gets underway, the start line will take place at the same Adelaide Riverbank location as the start of the men’s prologue later that afternoon. After 13km of neutral zone, the women will depart the city to begin the battle to see who will be the victor. 

As with the first two stages, stage 3 will feature 2 intermediate sprints, and a final effort up the category 1 Corkscrew climb before racing down to the finish to celebrate the first champion of the season. 

 

 

Riders to Watch

As always, with the first competition of the season it is hard to tell who will have the legs to be crowned the first victor. Additionally, there are new squads to test and equipment to run before we can make an honest assessment of the riders to watch in this first test of 2023. 

Amanda Spratt boasts the most wins, earning back-to-back victories from 2017 to 2019. Spratt will be making her debut with Trek-Segafredo this month, after racing for many years with Team BikeExchange. She finished 3rd in her last participation at the Santos Tour Down Under in 2020, and will have a strong squad backing her including Taylor Wiles (USA), Brodie Chapman (AUS), and Lauretta Hanson (AUS). 

Racing in her second season with FDJ – Suez – Futurescope, Australian Grace Brown enjoyed a strong 2022 season that saw her come in a close second in the Individual Time Trial at the World Championships behind Ellen Van Dijk. Earlier in the season she won a stage at the Women’s Tour and earned several top ten finishes in the spring, including finishing second at Liège-Bastogne-Liège. As the sole Australian on the squad, she will be leading their efforts in hopes of a top result.

Likely to be the other main rivals are the pink jerseys of EF Education – TIBCO – SVB.  The squad will include previous US National Champion Lauren Stephens, and the current US National Champion, Emma Langley, along with Krista Doebel-Hickok (USA) who enjoyed a strong 2022 season. 

Israel Premiere Tech Roland will debut their women’s team, competing in their first WorldTour season in 2023 after supporting a men’s WorldTour team for several years. In their second season, the Zaak Cycling Team will debut two exciting riders to watch, Michaela Drummond (New Zealand) and up and coming sprinting star, Maggie Coles-Lyster (Canada).

Other riders to watch include Georgia Baker racing for the Australian Team Jayco-Alula alongside Ruby Roseman-Gannon.

 

Summary

When: 15-17 January

Where: Australia

What: 3-day stage race

Riders to watch:

Amanda Spratt****

Grace Brown***

Ruby Roseman-Gannon**

Georgia Baker**

Maggie Coles-Lyster*

 

Preview by Rebecca Reza

 

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