Fans and Bike Industry Return to the TDU

Large group of people at start line of a bicycle race.

Adelaide, SA

It has been three long years since the last fully international Tour Down Under was held in Adelaide.

During the previous edition in January 2020, Covid was just starting to make the headlines, but few in either the professional peloton or the exhibiting bike industry could have anticipated the global disruption that was about to unfold just weeks after that year’s race ended.

Ultimately, the TDU is owned and run by a branch of the South Australian government. Without that deep-pocketed backing, the event might well have disappeared, despite the comparatively small national level event held in its place during the pandemic.

The break gave organisers time to re-consider and re-design the Tour Village in Victoria Square, which is the focal point of the ‘festival’ that stretches across more than a week, now there’s an international women’s tour preceding the men’s event.

Exhibitors willing to spend up had the option of displaying in a dedicated, air-conditioned marquee complete with carpeted flooring and shell scheme booths. This extra comfort came at a price. Full price was around $20,000 for a 9×3 metre display. But that did not deter exhibitors, with the marquee fully booked.

Others chose to take their chances with the sometimes brutally hot Adelaide January weather and exhibit outside. Fortunately, this year the weather was mild and the crowds came back, from all over Australia.

Before and during the event, relatively small-scale protests by climate activists seemed to attract as much national media coverage as the race itself. The protesters were calling on race organisers to drop Santos as the naming rights sponsor. Santos – which is short for South Australia Northern Territory Oil Search – is a fossil fuel company heavily involved in expanding controversial gas fracking projects. But the race itself and the bike expo activity in the Tour Village were not disrupted by the protests.

As always, not everyone chose to pay for space at the Tour Village. There were several pop-ups in different retail locations around town. Below is a sample of images from both the village. We’ll feature two of the popups and further TDU stories separately in this newsletter and future issues.

Meanwhile, here’s some of the scenes from the Tour Village which takes over Victoria Square, located in the geographic centre of the city, next to the GPO and Town Hall.

Join the Conversation

Do you think that TDU organisers should continue with Santos as the naming rights sponsor?

People sitting at outdoor tables watching large screen
Visitors don’t have to venture out to the roadside all day to watch the race. There’s a fully licenced bar, plenty of shade, bean bags and a view of the big screen showing every stage live.
People sitting at outdoor tables under marquee.
There were more eating areas and more shade provided this year, including surrounding mist sprays for hotter days.
A barber shaving man's head in outdoor setting
Who said cyclists only shave their legs?
Outdoor exhibit stalls with large bicycle inflatable in background.
Although it looked quiet when this photo was taken, these outdoor exhibitors all reported making good sales. Expo attendee numbers varied significantly, depending upon where each stage was being held and the time of day. There was less retail activity inside the marquee, where most exhibitors had more elaborate displays.
A person taking a plaster cast of another person's foot
Steven Nemeth of Bont Shoes makes plaster casts for custom fitting a new customer with a pair of Bont Helix shoes.
Man standing infront of cycling apparel stall
Freddy Enslin from Cape Town was representing South African apparel manufacturer Covita, a first-time exhibitor at the TDU. Covita, which means ‘Live in Motion’, employs around 250 staff and makes its apparel in-house. “We’re really looking forward to entering the Australian market,” Freddie said. “We’ll be selling through dealers – we’re not looking to be everywhere, just with a few.”
Two men sitting on ice baths holding sports supplement packet.
Serial entrepreneur Steve Allende (right) is the founder of Plasmaide, which he describes as a ‘blood health supplement’. Renowned cycling physiotherapist Victor Popov (left) has been assisting with the product development and testing. Steve says it has been a 10-year journey to get to this launch stage. They’re sitting on ice baths that were part of a competition for tour village visitors – whoever could stay in the longest won a year’s supply of Plasmaide. Steve is planning to distribute Plasmaide via bicycle dealers, in addition to other channels.
Yamaha e-mountain bike
Yamaha was a first-time exhibitor at the TDU. It new YDX Moro 07 e-mountain bike was nestled among a collection of motorbikes, outboard motors and a jet ski. The YDX Moro features a 500-watt hour battery, 85 Nm of torque, 160mm front and 150mm rear suspension travel, weighs 23.27 kg (size medium) and will retail between $8,000 and $9,000 when it finally goes on sale in Australia, which will not be until the start of 2024.
Yamaha cycling apparel.
Yamaha will also be selling cycling apparel. Its only planning to sell bikes and accessories through existing Yamaha dealers, not bike shops. According to a representative, this will enable them to offer consumer finance through their existing system, which is an additional profit centre.

1 Comment

  1. G Knight on 5th February 2023 at 3:33 pm

    Regarding Santos, there needs to be an investigation done into the current legal requirements of Santos. From 2009 until 2017, Santos sponsored the race under a special Deed of Undertaking which it entered into with the Rann Govt. From 2017 onward the trail goes cold as to whether Santos has been compelled to continue its sponsorship.
    Until we know if Santos has a legal right to quit sponsoring the race it would seem like a waste of time to pressure it to do so.

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