The 2012 WorldTour season kicks off on January 17-22 with the Tour Down Under in Australia.

The six-stage race takes place in and around the environs of Adelaide, capital city of South Australia. It’s summer Down Under, allowing the northern hemisphere professionals to swap the rain and snow of Europe for warm sun to ease their legs into racing.

With all stages within a stone’s throw of each other, teams can set up base in a hotel and stay there for the duration of the race with no lengthy transfers.

Race organisers have beefed up the route slightly this year. None of the stages have exceeded 150 kilometres in recent editions of the event and have favoured sprinters or attackers.

This year, however, stage five offers more of a challenge. The 151.5km stage features two ascents of Old Willunga Hill, finishing at the top on the second visit. This will give climbers a chance for a stage win and a place higher up the general classification.

The 2012 edition of the race is the debut for the Australia GreenEdge squad, who have entered an all-Australian team for its ‘home’ race. Defending TDU champion Cameron Meyer heads the team, backed by a line-up that also includes two further TDU winners: Simon Gerrans (2006) and Stuart O’Grady (1999 and 2001). Even though the team has yet to turn a pedal in the top flight, GreenEdge are going to be the squad to beat in this WorldTour opener.

Two British riders make their debut for their new WorldTour teams – Andrew Fenn for Omega Pharma-QuickStep and Adam Blythe for BMC Racing. Sky duo Geraint Thomas and Alex Dowsett complete the provisional British line-up for the race.

Mark Cavendish, who signed with Sky in the autumn, will not take part in this year’s race and will likely make his Sky debut at the Tour of Qatar in February.

All 18 WorldTour teams plus local outfit UniSA Australia field seven-man teams in the race, bringing the total start list to 133 riders.

The Tour Down Under is preceded by the one-day Down Under Classic race on Sunday, January 15.

Cycling Weekly will be covering the 2012 Tour Down Under in full with daily stage reports and photo galleries

Tour Down Under 2012: Latest news

Valverde returns to top, like it or not

Guesdon likely to end career after Down Under crash

Renshaw adapts to lead sprint role in new team

Fenn starts pro career Down Under

Sky’s Boasson Hagen favoured in Tour Down Under

GreenEdge makes history, ready to take on Sky

Tour Down Under 2012 start list

Valverde to make racing return at Tour Down Under

Sky’s 2012 Tour Down Under squad named

Tour Down Under 2012: Stage reports

Stage six: Gerrans wins overall, Greipel takes final stage

Stage five: Valverde wins as Gerrans takes lead

Stage four: Freire takes first win for Katusha

Stage three: Grepel wins stage three and takes lead

Stage two: Clarke catches top teams napping in Tour Down Under

Stage one: Greipel wins

Down Under Classic: Greipel opens Down Under with win

Tour Down Under 2012: Photo galleries

All photos by Graham Watson

Tour Down Under 2012 stage six photo gallery

Tour Down Under 2012 stage five photo gallery

Tour Down Under 2012 stage four photo gallery

Tour Down Under 2012 stage three photo gallery

Tour Down Under 2012 stage two photo gallery

Tour Down Under 2012 stage one photo gallery

Down Under Classic photo gallery

Tour Down Under 2012: Stages
Sunday, January 15: Down Under Classic (stand-alone event), 51km Won by Andre Greipel>>
Tuesday, January 17: Stage one, Prospect to Clare, 149km Won by Andre Greipel>>
Wednesday, January 18: Stage two, Lobethal to Stirling, 148km Won by William Clarke>>
Thursday, January 19: Stage three, Unley to Victor Harbor, 134.5km Won by Andre Greipel>>
Friday, January 20: Stage four, Norwood to Tanunda, 130km Won by Oscar Freire>>
Saturday, January 21: stage five, McLaren Vale to Old Willunga Hill, 151.5km Won by Alejandro Valverde>>
Sunday, January 22: Stage six, Adelaide City Council Street Circuit, 90km Won by Andre Greipel>>
Overall winner: Simon Gerrans

Tour Down Under 2012: TV guide

British broadcaster Sky Sports will be showing selected live coverage and highlights programmes of the 2012 Tour Down Under.

Sky Sports 2012 Tour Down Under TV schedule>>

Tour Down Under 2012: Teams
Tour Down Under 2012 start list>>
Ag2r La Mondiale (France)
Astana (Kazakhstan)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spain)
FDJ-Big Mat (France)
Garmin-Barracuda (USA)
GreenEdge (Australia)
Katusha (Russia)
Lampre-ISD (Italy)
Liquigas-Cannondale (Italy)
Lotto-Belisol (Belgium)
Movistar (Spain)
Omega Pharma-QuickStep (Belgium)
Rabobank (Netherlands)
Saxo Bank (Denmark)
Team Sky (Great Britain)
Radioshack-Nissan (Luxembourg)
Uni SA-Australia (Australia)
Vacansoleil-DCM (Netherlands)

Tour Down Under 2012: British riders
Adam Blythe (BMC)
Alex Dowsett (Sky)
Geraint Thomas (Sky)
Andrew Fenn (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)

Tour Down Under: Jerseys
Ochre (orange) jersey: Overall race leader
White jersey: King of the mountains leader
Blue jersey: Sprint classification leader
Black jersey: Best young rider
Red jersey: Most aggressive rider 

Cameron Meyer, 2011 winner

Tour Down Under: 2011 overall top ten
1. Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo in 17-54-27
2. Matt Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad at 2secs
3. Ben Swift (GB) Team Sky at 8secs
4. Michael Matthews (Aus) Rabobank at 9secs
5. Laurens ten Dam (Ned) Rabobank at 10secs
6. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Movistar at 17sec
7. Andre Greipel (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto at 26secs
8. Blel Kadri (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 26secs
9. Allan Davis (Aus) Astana at 27secs
10. Luke Roberts (Aus) Uni SA-Australia at 28secs

Tour Down Under: Previous winners
2011 Cameron Meyer (Aus) Garmin-Cervelo
2010 Andre Greipel (Ger) HTC-Columbia
2009 Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step
2008 Andre Greipel (Ger) High Road
2007 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Ag2r
2006 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Ag2r
2005 Luis Leon Sanchez (Spa) Liberty Seguros
2004 Patrick Jonker (Aus) UniSA
2003 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) Ag2r
2002 Michael Rogers (Aus) Australia Institute of Sport
2001 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole
2000 Gilles Maignan (Fra) Ag2r
1999 Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Credit Agricole

Related links

UCI 2012 WorldTour race calendar

Tour Down Under 2011: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

External link

Santos Tour Down Under 2012: official website

  • K Muller

    Idea for Changing the Great Classic Races of Cycling
    such as the Milan-San Remo, the Paris-Roubaix, and the Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

    Main reason for implementing this :
    to improve the viewing quality for the viewing public tuning in on the TV. It will be better to watch, because instead of being made to see one or two opportunistic break-aways all pulled back and get nothing for it, with it seems horribly like 99% of all not-hugely mountainous races ending in a big bunch sprint, leaving the viewing public wondering why they bothered to watch the last 100 km of the race when only the last 1 km seems to matter toward the outcome of the race. Dull dull dull. But no longer with this great solution, which will lead to good viewing suspense, new team strategies, and good viewing excitement for those watching on TV:

    The existing focus on the order of the riders crossing the finishing line is kept but shrunken to 60% if the prize money for the day.

    40 % go to the main combatants of this new system, as follows:
    15% goes to the winner of the tournament-in-a-day competition
    10% each go to the other two finalists of the tournament-in-a-day competition
    2.5% each go to the two cyclists who made it to the last 5 (but not the last 3) in the tournament-in-a-day competition

    The tournament-in-a-day competition:
    With 80 km to go before the finishing line for the day, a sprint determines who (= the first cyclist to cross this line) qualifies for the 2nd stage of the tournament-in-a-day competition;

    With 75 km to go before the finishing line for the day, a further sprint determines who (= the first cyclist to cross this line, apart from the person who has already qualified) qualifies for the 2nd stage of the tournament-in-a-day competition;

    With 70 km to go before the finishing line for the day, a sprint determines who (= the first cyclist to cross this line, apart from the 2 persons who have already qualified) qualifies for the 2nd stage of the tournament-in-a-day competition;

    A 4th cyclist qualifies at the 65 km to go mark
    And a 5th cyclist qualifies at the 60 km to go mark

    These are the only 5 riders from the entire race who are eligible for the prestigious and well-paid crown of the tournament-in-a-day competition

    If the same break-away of 5 or more riders was ahead of the peloton at all the above sprint markers, it goes without say that only those who were in this break-away and who sprinted well, are left in the running for this title.

    Phase 2:
    At the 45 km to go marker, a sprint to the line determines which one of the 5 riders to have qualified for stage 2 of the tournament-in-a-day competition qualifies further to its (phase 3) final.

    A further sprint at the 40 km to go marker determines which one of the other 4 riders to have qualified for stage 2 of the tournament-in-a-day competition qualifies to its phase 3.

    A further sprint at the 30 km to go marker determines which one of the other 3 riders to have qualified for stage 2 of the tournament-in-a-day competition qualifies to its phase 3.

    Phase 3:
    Then with 10 km to go, a final sprint determines which one of the 3 who qualified for phase 3 wins the title of winner of the tournament-in-a-day competition.

    This 3 phase system makes the elite races into a fascinating thing to watch; and it brings in the element of qualifying for something worth fighting for during the course of a one-day classic race in, allowing viewers to track changes and break-away attempts aimed at winning further qualification as the race goes on in a big new way.

    Idea for Changing the Great And the New Tour Races of Road Cycling for the Better

    Idea 2: This goes well with the above, and it will bring in more good-stuff to the viewing experience on the big tours + adds a new layer of opportunity and suspense to the race (plus it kills off the current situation where most of the effort that goes into break-aways is a long-shot gamble and a complete waste of energy):

    A blue jersey is brought in (in addition to the yellow, polka-dot and sprinters jerseys). This jersey is for riders who fought hard in break-aways on flat(ish) stages.

    Blue jersey points are earned as follows:
    10 points for each participant in a break-away that got itself 10-19 seconds ahead of the peloton (main bunch) at any time check on the day.

    This same combination of riders gets an 11th point each if they get 20-29 seconds clear;
    A 12th point if they get 30-39 seconds clear;
    A 13th point if they get 40-49 seconds clear;
    A 14th point if they get 50-59 seconds clear;
    A 15th point if they get 1 minute to 1 minute 19 seconds clear;
    A 16th point if they get 1 minute 20 – 1 minute 39 seconds clear;
    A 17th point if they get 1 minute 40 – 1 minute 59 seconds clear;
    A 18th point if they get 2 minutes to 2 minutes 29 seconds clear;
    A 19th point if they get 2 minutes 30 to 2 minutes 59 seconds clear;
    A 20th point if they get 3 minutes or more clear;

    Different combinations of riders (e.g. if a break-away group shrinks or grows by 1 rider or by several riders): a further score of 10-20 points is awarded for each new combination of riders in the break-away(s) that gets a ‘number of seconds currently ahead of the peloton’ time check.

    In addition, 3 points, 2 points and 1 point are awarded each day for the riders who spent the most time at the very front of the break-away group(s) overall, working to pull it along and to keep it ahead.

    Then after the first 5 flat stages have been run, all further flat stages of the tour after this count double (20 to 40 instead of 10-20 and 6 ,4, 2 instead of 3,2,1).

    A third idea is to bring in a striped jersey, which consists of one against one battles for the day. Each of these one against one battles for the day is decided by: 1. Yellow (if they do not end the day in the same group of riders, this overrides all else)
    2. Blue (if one of them was involved in any break-away this day that the other one was not involved in, they win the clash)
    3. Red: Each one-against one battle has its own special sprint lines: The first one takes place somewhere between the 80 km to go and the 50 km to go on the day markers (where exactly is decided by a drawing). The second one takes place somewhere between the 50 km to go and the 20 km to go on the day markers (where exactly is decided by a drawing). And for those one-on-one encounters where the above yellow, blue and 2 special sprints do not determine a winner, the first to cross the end of the day’s stage line at the end of the day’s stage decides the winner of the one-on-one encounter (acting as the third sprint in a 2 out of 3 red sprints system).

    The suggested format to consider for the striped jersey battles in the tour as a whole is to have 2 qualifying and 4 best positions days, all near the start of the tour (and not use the time trial stages).
    The first and second (mass-start) stages on the cycling tour are to determine 8 qualifiers each for the striped jersey:
    The stage winner of the day is one of these 8 qualifiers;
    5 of the remaining 7 qualifying slots from each day are determined by yellow (counts more than) blue (counts more than) red points, with red points awarded as 5,3,2,1 points each in three free-for-all sprints (held only on these two days) at approximately 90, 60 and 30 km to go and w,7,5,3,2,1 red points awarded at the end of the day’s race line; and the remaining 2 qualifying slots are determined by the red points alone.

    An alternative might use a time trial or a mountain stage to determine half or all the 16 who qualify for the striped jersey battle.

    A drawing determines who goes up against who among the 16 who have qualified for the striped jersey on its 3rd day.

    On its 4th day, winners of the 3rd day battles go up against each other in the quarter-finals; and losers go up against losers in the battle for a top 10 place.

    On day 5, the 4 riders who have won all their one-on-one battles so far go up against each other in the semi-finals. Others who are still in the running in the battles for 5th or for 9th place in the striped jersey are also allocated new opponents within these brackets.

    Then on day 6 the final standings are decided in the battles for 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th and 9th place.

    An alternative suggestion (proposal 3B) puts all 16 qualified riders on the 3rd day and the brackets of 8 and 4 on subsequent days into all-against-all battles, in which the better half (winners) are decided by a yellow counts more than blue counts more than red all-against-all system.

    My 4th good idea proposal is to start each flat day off with a pattern of break-aways, determined by a drawing:

    Starting 6 minutes ahead of the peloton are 5 riders, determined by a drawing, none of whom have had this privilege before in this tour and none of whom are in the top 20 of the yellow jersey or the top 5 of the sprinters jersey battle.

    Then, starting 2 minutes ahead of the peloton are a further 20 riders, determined in a drawing that involves all cyclists other than the above 5.

    The objective of this proposal is to increase the chance of all other outcomes and interim situations other than the all-in-one mass peloton finish, which occurs way too often, in my view, under the current system.

    My proposal 4B is that you have 2 whole teams starting 6 minutes ahead of the peloton each day (determined by a drawing among all the teams other than the top 3 and other than the ones who have had big head starts like this already) and a further 4 whole teams starting 2 minutes ahead of the peloton. You can imagine how the teams would have to decide how hard to fight to stay out in front and how many riders they can drop, and how the peloton is in a must-try-to-catch-them cat-and-mouse situation each time. Other variations of this idea, (such as 1 team, then 2 more, then 3 more teams, then all others) are to be considered too please.

    Proposal 5: Please also consider bringing in a rule that no team is allowed to have more than two exceptions to the rule that all riders within a team must be from the same country (so each team has a national affiliation and no more than two riders from other countries racing for it).

    A combination of any 1, 2 or 3 of the above ideas could be used in a tour, making it a better thing to watch, and making the world a better place.

    I hope you see these ideas not as something threatening or anti-establishment, but as a good idea, a strong proposal, something that can and in the coming years, with YOUR help WILL make the sport a better thing to watch.

    I hereby grant full rights to use or to change and use this idea of mine free of charge. I hope it succeeds on its own good contents, and finds implementation, so we viewers who want it to be exciting and also slowly unravelling in stages, do not have to suffer for much longer .

    Best Wishes
    K Muller of Norwich