The Tour Down Under is heading for its 25th anniversary with some renewed momentum after a successful event this January.
This article will barely mention the race itself – leaving that for consumer media, but instead will focus upon trade events and related activities that surround the race.
From an industry perspective, the Tour Expo at the TDU headquarters in Victoria Square was well attended, with virtually every exhibitor I spoke with saying that the attendance was up compared to last year, when the event was just getting back on its feet after two severely covid disrupted years in 2021 and 2022.
This year’s TDU enjoyed mild weather, with only a couple of hot days.
The TDU is always a lottery when it comes to the weather. January in Adelaide can be brutally hot. Exhibiting outdoors for 10 days straight when the temperature has exceeded 40 degrees during some years tests the stamina of the most dedicated exhibitors.
That’s why several years ago the organisers started offering exhibitors the option of booths within a huge, airconditioned marquee – at a much higher price of course. Exhibitors opting for air conditioned comfort this year included FE Sports, MCH Imports, Cassons, Sheppard Cycles, Kask, Shimano, Oakley, Bikesportz, Canyon, Factor, Bike Box, Groupe Sportif, Garmin and Zwift.
Meanwhile outdoor exhibitors included Pon.Bike, DeGrandi, Quadlock, Big Ring, Bikey Wipes, Ciovita, Yamaha, Chapter2, GPI Apollo, Recycle Bike Sales, Plasmade and Prepd.
The outdoor expo runs from 11am to 7pm each day with the indoor running from 2pm to 7pm.
Another group of companies opt not to exhibit in Victoria Square at all, but to have ‘pop up’ exhibits and activations in bike shops or other commercial premises nearby. This year these included Trek, Specialized, Rapha, Attaquer, Maap, Echelon Sports, Brompton, Curve and Pedla.
Many of the bike companies offer test ride fleets, that visitors can take out for a full day ride, free of charge. Some also run daily supported group rides.
Then there’s a host of events beyond the main Men’s and Women’s Tour Down Under stage races themselves. This year these included a round of the Para Cycling Road World Cup, a car park race open to all commers, three different street parties, sustainability expo, a family ride, gravel rides and races, local racing including criteriums, track and MTB racing, meet the pro teams signing events and a Wines of the Tour degustation dinner. The one notable exception to this very long list was a mass participation ride that traditionally uses the route of a TDU stage and starts several hours before the race itself. For whatever reason, after more than 20 years, this event was not held this year.
Meanwhile on the industry side, as we’ve reported in three separate articles, the TDU hosted a battery forum, sustainability form and the BIA annual general meeting, plus the best attended industry event by far – a free industry drinks night!
One of the most popular attractions of all is the Team Zone, another huge air conditioned marque in which every team has a pit area and all members of the public and enter in the afternoon after each stage to watch the team mechanics working on their bikes and even chat to the mechanics about all things bike tech.
Below are some scenes from some of these activities:
Ever Been to a Car Park Race?
One of the official Tour Down Under events was certainly a race with a difference.
Riders started in a city centre laneway before taking a sharp left and heading into a large six level car-park – that had been closed to customers and emptied of cars.
With each level having two sections that meant 12 U-turns and ramps to negotiate, which the top riders were doing in little over a minute.
The format was sudden death, initially with three riders per race and only the winner advancing to the next round, then two riders per race for all subsequent rounds.