Adelaide to host Tour Down Under cycle race

November 11th, 2008 - 1:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Nov 11 (DPA) Sydney had the Olympics, Melbourne has the Australian Open tennis but come January the nation’s sporting capital will be Adelaide with its Tour Down Under cycle race.News that seven-times Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will be on the starting line for his comeback race has generated enormous interest in the cycling fraternity.

The US rider hung up his helmet three years ago but has signed with the Astana team for another crack at road racing’s blue-ribbon event.

The Tour Down Under, the first stage race outside Europe to be accorded the cherished ProTour status, already attracts the world’s top teams.

The Jan 20-25 event opens the ProTour season, and is particularly attractive to spectators because each stage begins and ends in Adelaide and the action is in and around the picturesque Barossa Valley wine-growing region.

As with the Tour de France, so too with the Tour Down Under: keen amateurs flock to ride in the tyre tracks of their two-wheel heroes.

Organisers report 3,600 fans have already signed up to ride a 155-kilometre prologue for amateurs.

“We’re capping the event at 5,000 riders and organisers are urging people to register quickly to avoid missing out on the chance to ride the same route as the professional cyclists,” said South Australian Premier Mike Rann.

Rann is cock-a-hoop that Armstrong’s second coming has whipped up fresh interest in the Tour Down Under and, for January at least, has put bigger Australian cities in the shade.

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