The Santos Festival of Cycling for 2013 kicks off with the People’s Choice Classic, a closed street circuit race around the streets of the East End in Adelaide’s CBD. The race is a preview to the 6 stage Tour Down Under, with no time bonuses awarded to the winner, but that doesn’t mean the riders don’t take it seriously as they look to blow off the cobwebs from the festive season and start the new year with a victory.
The race is 30 laps of a 1.7 kilometre circuit (51 kilometres total length) and is a great way to kick off a big week of cycling as it affords fans many opportunities to see the big names in cycling. The 2013 edition sees stars like 2010 Tour de France winner Andy Schleck, current World Champion Philippe Gilbert, highly rated Sky Procycling rider Edvald Boasson Hagen, Adelaide’s favourite son Stuart O’Grady and sprinting superstars Andre Greipel, Matt Goss and Jose Joaquin Rojas.
There are also some very bright prospects for the future taking part, with Adelaide’s Jack Bobridge tipped for big things, German sprinter Marcel Kittel a star in the making and Spanish climber Gorka Izaguirre lining up in the race.
The street circuit has some very tight corners and there are always plenty of accidents as the riders rediscover the competitive edge that hasn’t been required in the past month. There are also some rather rough bits of road, so if the riders stray off the preferred line, they could be in for an uncomfortable time as they roll across the bumpy Adelaide roads.
With 30 laps, viewing for spectators is fantastic and the riders will be doing each lap in slightly under 2 minutes, so you never have to wait long to see the riders fly past again. With Rymill Park forming the entire inner section of the course and Rundle Park, Dequetteville Terrace, East Terrace and Bartels Road framing the outer section, it isn’t hard to find a decent vantage point. Given the forecast is for low 30s, a huge crowd is expected.
After an off-season dogged by controversy, riders, the media and fans alike will welcome a return to racing action, and the People’s Choice Classic is the perfect way to kick off season 2013. As for a winner, how can you go past German Andre Greipel – the man affectionately dubbed ‘Gorilla’ has won the Classic twice before, including last year, and he loves racing in Adelaide.
The People’s Choice Classic
Distance: 51 kilometres
Start time: 7:00 pm
Format: 30 laps of a 1.7km street circuit
Where: East End, Adelaide