Guide to the six stages of the 2018 Tour Down Under, the opening race of the UCI WorldTour (January 16-21)
The race is almost entirely based around Adelaide, South Australia, and its environs, and comprises six stages from Tuesday, January 16, to Sunday, January 21.
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 the previous stage, with the race organisers introducing back-to-back uphill finishes for the first time in the history of the Tour Down Under.
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 21.
Tour Down Under 2018 stages
Stage one, Port Adelaide to Lyndoch, 145km
Tuesday, January 16
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 the same as that that used in 2017, and should see a bunch sprint to decide the winner
Stage two, Unley to Stirling, 148.6km
Wednesday, January 17
Stirling has been a regular fixture in the Tour Down Under through the years, with its lumpy circuit having the potential to disrupt the sprinters, especially if they’re short of form early in the season. In previous years this finish has suited punchy riders able to produce sharp accelerations after a day of hard, lumpy riding, so expect a similar sort of rider to prevail in 2018.
Stage three, Glenelg to Victor Harbor, 146.5km
Thursday, January 18
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 Uraidla, 128.2km
Friday, January 19
For the first time in its history, the Tour Down Under will feature back-to-back uphill finishes, with a climb towards the finish in Uraidla being introduced for the 2018 edition. The climb of Norton Summit Road has been used by the race in the past, but this is the first time that the finish has been located so close to its summit.
Stage five, McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill, 151.5km
Saturday, January 20
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 21
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.