Bushfires could prompt first-ever cancellation of Santos Tour Down Under stage
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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Bushfires could prompt first-ever cancellation of Santos Tour Down Under stage

by Shane Stokes at 9:02 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour Down Under
Decision could be made right up until start time on Tuesday’s opening leg of race

Tour Down UnderRace organisers of the Tour Down Under are bracing themselves to call off Tuesday's first stage into the Barossa Valley at the last minute, should the danger of bushfires and hot winds continue.

Teams wanting to train in the Barossa on Saturday in readiness for the 135km stage from Nuriootpa to Angaston were warned off going there from their base in Adelaide by authorities as fires in the area continued.

On Friday night, the Country Fire Service had to defend Angaston from bushfires that by mid-Saturday had destroyed up to five homes.

Race director Mike Turtur said on Saturday event organisers would remain in contact with the CFS and the South Australian Police and monitor the fires that have stricken the state during a heatwave in which temperatures have stayed at or above 40 degrees.

''From a race point of view, we are taking regular updates from the authorities in terms of what's happening there, he said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. “'It's a serious situation that needs to be monitored and will be monitored until the day before the race.”

He said at that point the organisers would take advice from others on what was best to do. However he also stated that a final decision could be made right before the start on Tuesday.

“If it's a no-go zone for the Barossa, then it's a no-go zone - simple as that - possibly the cancellation of the stage, depending on advice from the correct people. Any activity in the region that is deemed as a danger to the public, then obviously you can't ask people to go into the areas. It would be crazy to do that.”

The race has been run since 1999 and has never before had to either modify a stage or to call one off.

He played down suggestions that the route of one of the other stages could be replicated on day one to make up for the missing stage. “If we were doing track racing, no problem - around a velodrome in a closed environment. When you're dealing with logistics of road racing, it's difficult to redesign a stage on the run and have something that's going to duplicate what you're trying to do.”

Tomorrow’s People’s Choice Classic in Adelaide is set to go ahead, with the riders using that criterium to loosen up and fine-tune their sharpness prior to the Santos Tour Down Under.

Some of the sport’s biggest names and teams are competing in the race, with the participants including former Tour de France winner Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team) and 2012 Paris-Nice victory Richie Porte (Sky).


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