Sunday, 9 January 2011

Expectations Santos Tour Down Under

To me there are three things I look forward to. There is the clash of the sprinters, the "kick-off" of the season is of special importance to me and there is Lance Armstrong's farewell to international pro cycling a vital factor.

Sport in motion
What to expect of Tour Down under? The general results will probably be as last year; a strong sprinter from from one of the large pro teams will dominate, while local riders and teams make sure they're recognised by the audience and fans going for breakaways aggressively. But predictability is not the same as boredom, be aware.

To every rider with a Euro calendar, the TDU is merely a part of training as well as keeping the sponsors happy. At least for the riders who reside outside Oz and NZ. A bit harsh perhaps but that's how many believe. It's just related to the time the race is held and the riders' goals for spring and summer, not because of the geographical position or the organisation of the event - which is as good as it gets compared to others.

The Santos Tour Down Under has the longest list of partners I have ever seen. You'll find it here.
One of the partners is the SA Cancer Council, perhaps a collaboration with Livestrong is in order?

Sprinters delight
Cav vs. Greipel is a duel I have been looking forward to. Cav will not be in his greatest shape, he's got most of his attention focused on the Tour and Worlds. However, there is a maybe tucked in between the lines. Cav and Greipel have been squabbling for some time, and I bet Greipel will be giving what he has and then some, in order to "prove" Cav wrong. Of course, Cav is aware of this and being as proud as he is, it can be an interesting fight.

Those happy days

Lets not forget other sprinters like Garmin-Cervelo's Farrar, Saxo's Haedo, BMC's Kristoff, Astana's Davis, Sky's Henderson and of course McEwen wearing Radioshack's red. Quite a line-up.

Picture by Tim Francis
Farewell to Arms
This race is said to be the last race of Lance Armstrong. Last international professional road race is the correct term. My Twitterfeed indicates that there is a certain article being released within a few days that might hamper his participation, but at this time this is just rumours and should be treated as so.

According to sources, the seven-time tour de France winner will receive some 2 million USD as his appearance fee. Last year, an anonymous source told Cricket, an Oz newspaper, that Armstrong received  $1 million to attend and $500k up front as well as same amount after racing. Read more here. Earlier it has been stated that Armstrong gave all his money from appearance fee to charity, but in an interview with New York Times, it came clear that he "did not donate his fee to his foundation but treating this as income".  Read more here.

I sent a request to twitter-friend @FlashingPedals regarding the financial aspect of Armstrong's
participation. He was kind to inform me about the two links mentioned in the paragraph above.

The fact that Armstrong gets a fee in the first place has created some controversy in SA and many people do not see the point why their tax-money should go to bring the Texan over to "ride and show face". Some has even indicated that the amount is higher, due to the fact that other organisers, like the Tour of Qatar, has a unlimited budget and they also wanted Armstrong to attend their race.

Tourism Australia's managing director Andrew McEvoy, who headed the SA Tourism Commision when Armstrong rode the first time, says Armstrong's appearance "is vital for local economy".
Armstrong's appearance actually doubled the province income says Adelaide Now, a local news paper. In 2010, some 39000 people visit the TDU and in return injected 41,5 million $ in the local economy. The year before the estimates were 15000 people and 17 million dollars. As to whether all this money is related to Armstrong's presence only, I don't know, but it's clear the organisers of Santos Tour Down Under feel so.

Armstrong will as always have most of the attention of journalists before, during and after the tour. Maybe he'll receive a special prize handed out by an official like Pat McQuaid to mark his fantastic career and an in-depth interview by Phil Ligget and Paul Sherwen like after the tour in 2005 will probably take place. Armstrong will probably arrive some time prior to the race, doing charities and visit cancer-victims, to spread the word and raise some funding to his and TDU partner's cancer awareness campaign.

Let's hope that those journalists who showed up on the press conference last year wearing Discovery Team kit leave that to the fans this year.

Picture: By X,, or here
Picture: By Tim Francis,, downloaded from here

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