Tour Down Under 2018 course preview

Velon's stage-by-stage preview of the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under, the six-day race starting on 16 January that ushers in another packed season of bike racing on the mens' UCI WorldTour. 

Real-time in-race data from Velon will featured in live TV coverage broadcast throughout the race on the Nine Network in Australia and across the world. Velon's data will also be available via our free app.

Stage 1

Tuesday 16 January
11:00 AM, Port Adelaide
Finish: 2:41 PM ETA, Lyndoch
Distance: 145km

One climb awaits the riders, at Humbug Scrub, on this 145km trip into Barossa Valley wine country. The riders will have acclimatised to the heat in training, but riding at race pace will be a different matter and it's almost guaranteed to be a baking hot start to the race.

Two intermediate sprints - after 74.3km and 100.8km - will most likely be fought out among the day’s breakaway before the peloton hunts them down to set up a bunch sprint.

Mitchelton-SCOTT’s Aussie Caleb Ewan won in Lyndoch last year, scoring the first of his four stage victories, and he will be the man to beat again - although Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors), André Greipel (Lotto Soudal) and BORA-hansgrohe duo Sam Bennett and Peter Sagan are also strong candidates for an opening victory and the race leader's ochre jersey.

Stage 2

Wednesday 16 January
11:00 AM, King William Road, Unley
Finish: 3:11 PM ETA, Mount Barker Road, Stirling
Distance: 148.6km

An undulating stage that may well be one for a puncheur or an all-rounder like Sagan. The peloton will rumble out of the suburb of Unley towards the Adelaide Hills before completing three laps of a circuit in Stirling.

The day's solitary categorised climb comes early on, at Tea Tree Gully, and is 2.4km long with an average 6.3% gradient - followed by intermediate sprints at Main Street, Oakbank (45.9km) and Strathalbyn Road (77.3km).


Thursday 18 January
11:00 AM, Colley Tce, Glenelg
Finish: 2:53 PM ETA, The Esplanade, Victor Harbor
Distance: 146.5km

Stage 3 starts with a short uncategorised climb in Glenelg before the peloton swoops down into McLaren Vale, another famous wine location. There will be no time to sample the local produce (at least not for the riders) because the toughest climb of the race so far awaits - an average 7.6% gradient for 2.7km on Pennys Hill Road. 

Intermediate sprints at Myponga (61.6km) and Inman Valley Road (88.3km) will lead the riders to a flat finish, after 146.5km, when Ewan, Greipel, Sagan and the other usual sprint suspects will contest the stage win. Crosswinds on the Fleurieu Peninsula may play a part.

BUPA Stage 4

Friday 19 January
11:30 AM, The Parade, Norwood
Finish: 3:00 PM ETA, Greenhill Road, Uraidla
Distance: 128.2km

The Stage 4 start and finish towns are just 15km apart, but the riders won't have things that easy. Starting in the Adelaide suburb of Norwood, this route takes the race eastwards from the city and out to Mount Pleasant before looping back.

Norton Summit Road, the day's only categorised climb, comes inside the final 10km of this undulating 128.2km stage and will provide a serious test for any rider with GC ambitions. It's a 5.8km climb with an average 5% gradient.

Intermediate sprints come at Shannon Street, after 35.8km, and Onkaparinga Valley Road (70.6km).

Stage 5

Saturday 20 January
11:10 AM, Main Road, McLaren Vale
Finish: 2:58 PM ETA, Brookman Road, Willunga Hill
Distance: 151.5km

Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team) basically owns this stage. The Tasmanian rider has now won it four years in a row - and will be hungry to make it five in 2018.

It will be fascinating to see which of the GC contenders are still in the hunt after two ascents of Willunga Hill. Intermediate sprints come first at Snapper Point (63.4km and 103.4km) before the two climbs, which arrive at 129.1km before the summit finish at 151.5km.

It will again be the decisive stage in GC as the winning rider takes a decisive chunk of time out of his rivals. Jay McCarthy (BORA-hansgrohe), Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) and Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana Pro Team) are among the bookies' favourites, along with Porte.

Be Safe Be Seen Mac Stage 6

Sunday 21 January
1:30 PM, King William Street, Adelaide
Finish: 3:30 PM ETA, King William Street, Adelaide
Distance: 90km

A short and sharp street circuit stage in downtown Adelaide. At 90km, it's 40km more than the People's Choice Classic - and should end in a bunch sprint.

Two classified climbs, on Montefiore Hill, come at 43.8km and 66.3km, with intermediate sprints on King William Road at 36km and 54km.

Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT) made it four victories from six stages here last season - will he come out firing again in 2018? 

Don't miss: