Richie Porte's crown is safe: Tour Down Under returns without Willunga Hill in 2023
The race is back on the WorldTour calendar for 2023, but Australian ace's favourite Willunga Hill won't feature
The Tour Down Under is set to return to the WorldTour from 2023 after a two-year absence, but Willunga Hill, synonymous for being dominated by Richie Porte, won't feature in the race.
Porte won the Tour Down Under stage finishing atop Willunga Hill for six successive years between 2013 and 2019, with Matthew Holmes ending his streak in 2020. The Australian immediately bounced back at the 2021 Santos Festival of Cycling, though, resuming normality with another victory on the iconic climb.
However, it seems Willunga Hill simply cannot continue to be included on the Tour Down Under without Richie Porte, who is set to retire at the end of 2022. Race organisers announced a final-stage visit to Mount Lofty in the Adelaide Hills will instead replace Willunga Hill.
Set to feature as the first event on both the men's and women's WorldTour calendars in 2023, the Tour Down Under will be preceded by a criterium race on Saturday 14 January.
The women's race, formerly ranked 2.Pro, has achieved WorldTour status for next year, and includes three stages on the days after the criterium, finishing on Tuesday 17 January.
Meanwhile, the men's race begins with a prologue time trial on the day the women's race concludes, featuring a 5.5km route around the South Australian city. Riders will complete five road stages thereafter, finishing with the climb up Mount Lofty, rather than Willunga Hill.
Organisers also announced both the men's and women's races are set to feature as a WorldTour event until 2025, at least.
Two-time Tour Down Under winner and now race director, Stuart O'Grady, said: “The 2023 race routes have been designed to test our cyclists like never before whilst taking fans to the heart of the action.
“The Santos Tour Down Under will open with an exciting new time trial: the EFEX Prologue around Adelaide’s Riverbank is an event first, taking place on a loop around the Torrens with each rider beginning on the Riverbank bridge and tackling the course individually – it’s man versus clock in this all-out effort.
“More event firsts include a formidable Mount Lofty finisher and a stunning beachside stage start at Brighton – all the race routes showcase South Australia at its very best and we can’t wait welcome the international cycling community back to our state.”
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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