It is the sad state of geo-cultural reality that leaves most non-Australians with Crocodile Dundee, Dingo Ate My Baby, Yahoo Serious and Foster’s Lager as the enduring symbols of the Land Down Under. Oh, sure. We all love a shrimp on the barbie, and who can resist a little Mad Max on late night television? But, the truth is Australia is a sports lover’s paradise.
Cricket, rugby, Aussie rules, swimming, football, and on an on. Our southern hemispheric friends love to compete. They love to watch, and they know how to throw a party.
This is a long and not-at-all concise lead in to a discussion of the upcoming Tour Down Under (January 18th – 23rd), a race that has become, by virtue of its early start date, the de facto kick off of the pro road cycling season.
This year the TDU carries the withering storyline of Lance Armstrong’s final pro level road race. Allegedly. Possibly. Hopefully.
Additionally, many riders who saw their 2010 blighted by injuries will pop back up on the bottom side of the globe to try to get themselves sorted out for 2011.
It’s a race that gives us first glimpses at new teams and often new riders. You might remember Peter Sagan and Xavier Tondo standing out in last year’s event.
In fact, if anything holds this race back, it’s a lack of real climbing action, the Willunga Hill serving up some uphill, but nothing on the order of the Alps, Pyrenees or even California’s Sierra Nevada.
This week’s Group Ride addresses the following: Is the TDU an important race? Is it a big race? Is it a good race? Do you look forward to it? Or, is it a warm up? An exhibition? Where is its proper place in the cycling universe?