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.
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