The Tour Down Under have issued a statement regarding the Australian bushfire crisis that is currently causing devastation in their country.
With the race taking place around Adelaide in South Australia, the majority of areas affected by the fires have been in the neighbouring states of New South Wales and Victoria, but South Australia has not escaped totally unharmed.
The Cudlee Creek fire is reported to have destroyed more than 80 homes in the Adelaide Hills region, located just outside the city. The fires have also apparently destroyed a third of the vines used by the area’s wine industry.
Organisers of the Tour Down Under have said they are monitoring the situation and working hard to ensure the routes for both men’s and women’s races can go ahead as originally planned.
In a statement, organisers said: “Our thoughts are with those people and communities affected by the bushfires, and certainly with the CFS and others who continue to work so hard to keep South Australian people and property protected.
“We are in discussions with the Adelaide Hills Council, who are committed to seeing the Santos Tour Down Under running through the region. The Council and DPTI are working hard to ensure the routes are safe so both the men’s and women’s races can go ahead as planned.
“In talking with the Adelaide Hills Council, the most significant thing we as a race can do at this time is to promote that the Adelaide Hills are open for business, to promote the region and encourage people to travel into and support the region. We are working closely with the Council, emergency services and the local communities and will continue to monitor the situation.
“As always, the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved with the Santos Tour Down Under is our priority.”
With very hot and dry conditions persisting, and strong winds and thunderstorms expected, further fires remain a risk.
The 2020 Tour Down Under begins on Tuesday January 21 with riders competing over six stages, culminating on Sunday January 26 with the summit finish on Willunga Hill.
Richie Porte (Trek-Segafredo) won on Willunga Hill last year but was beaten to the overall classification by Daryl Impey (Mitchelton-Scott) by 13 seconds, with Wout Poels (Bahrain McLaren) third.