Guide to the six stages of the 2017 Tour Down Under, the opening race of the UCI WorldTour (January 17-22)
The race is almost entirely based around Adelaide, South Australia, and its environs, and comprises six stages from Tuesday, January 17, to Sunday, January 22.
As has been the case with previous editions of the Tour Down Under, the race is likely to be decided on Willunga Hill on stage five.
However there is also the opportunity for GC men to open gaps on their rivals as early as stage two, with the short, uphill finish into Paracombe.
As for the sprinters, there are a handful of opportunities to shine, with the first leader’s ochre jersey likely to go to a fast man after stage one.
The race concludes with a criterium around the streets of Adelaide on Sunday, January 22.
Tour Down Under 2017 stages
Stage one, Unley to Lyndoch, 145km
Tuesday, January 17
Starting in the south of Adelaide, the neutralised zone passes through the city centre before racing gets going on the edge of town. The finishing circuit around Lyndoch is only slightly different to that used in 2016, and should see a bunch sprint to decide the winner
Stage two, Stirling to Paracombe, 148.5km
Wednesday, January 18
The first real test of the week, Torrens Hill Road in Paracombe averaged nine per cent for its 1.2km length, and with the road narrowing drastically at its base, positioning will be crucial. Rohan Dennis took the stage win here in 2015 to set up his overall win; will we see the same again in the 2017 Tour Down Under?
Stage three, Glenelg to Victor Harbor, 144km
Thursday, January 19
Don’t be deceived by the race profile, as stage three is a lot flatter than it looks. After the race drops down into Victor Harbour there are four laps of a slightly lumpy 14km circuit that might be hard enough to get rid of a few out-of-form sprinters, but shouldn’t shake up the GC.
Stage four, Norwood to Campbelltown, 149.5km
Friday, January 20
With rolling roads, a downhill slant to the finish, and the leading teams perhaps looking to rest their legs head of tomorrow’s test, stage four could be the best day for a breakaway to succeed.
Stage five, McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill, 151.5km
Saturday, January 21
The queen stage of the Tour Down Under, Willunga Hill will be climbed twice on the penultimate stage of the race, firstly to separate the wheat from the chaff, and then to decide the overall victory. With an average gradient of 7% for 3km, it’s certainly not the hardest climb of the year, but it’s the first summit finish of the year, so we’re not going to complain.
Stage six, Adelaide, 90km
Sunday, January 22
The final criterium stage around the streets of Adelaide is a chance for the fans to see their heroes for one last time before they jet off back to Europe, but if there are slender gaps at the top of the GC standings, then expect the racing to be fierce as riders go in search of potentially crucial time bonuses.