The 2014 Santos Tour Down Under kicks off with the spectator friendly San Remo Pasta Stage 1, a 135 kilometre stage from Nuriootpa to Angaston in the beautiful Barossa Valley wine region, north of Adelaide.
The race travels in a loop from Nuriootpa, taking in the towns of Greenock, Seppeltsfield, Marananga, Tanunda and Bethany three times before heading to Angaston, giving race fans plenty of chances to find a good spot and see the riders in action. The last lap takes a different direction after Bethany, going up the iconic Menglers Hill climb just 14 kilometres from the finish line.
There are two Sprint prizes up for grabs, both on Bethany Road, Bethany, occurring on Laps 1 and 2.
The Skoda King of the Mountain is at the summit of the Menglers Hill prize, and this is where the stage gets really interesting. Menglers is a moderate climb of just under 3 kilometres with an average gradient around 7%, not the toughest climb but with only 14 kilometres until the finish line expect to see some attacks as those with ambitions to don the leader’s Ochre jersey at the completion of Stage 1 will not want the likes of Marcel Kittel (Giant Shimano) and Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol) reaching the peak with the peloton and involving themselves in a bunch sprint to the line.
Once they crest Menglers Hill, it’s a fast downhill finish to Angaston and I’d be looking to sprinters who can climb for the stage win – think Michael Matthews (Orica GreenEdge) or Jose Joaquin Rodriquez (Movistar).
For those heading to Stage 1 to take in the action, choosing a decent vantage point will be tricky in that there are so many good options. Heading to Bethany for the sprint is a good option, with the chance to see two sprints and the riders pass three times, finding a good spot on Menglers Hill to see the action intensify as the battle for the King of the Mountain and possibly the stage 1 heats up or securing a spot near the finish in Angaston will also let you see the riders thrice and watch one lucky cyclist secure a stage win and a day (at least) in the Ochre jersey.
And if you like to combine your love of cycling with the finer things in love – namely food and drink – there is so much choice in the Barossa that it’s hard to suggest the best. Here are my recommendations:
Tanunda Bakery, Murray Street, Tanunda
The finest cakes, German breads and pastries in all of South Australia. And you’ll get to see the riders go past three times – a definite must in my eyes!
Chateau Dorrien, corner of Barossa Valley Way and Seppeltsfield Road, Tanunda
A very quirky winery situated on a corner that will see the riders pass three times. The interior of this chateau has to be seen to be believed, but they do produce some of the best fortifieds in the State.
Turkey Flat Vineyards, Bethany Road, Tanunda
A fantastic little winery that will have something to suit everyone’s taste. Another venue luckily enough to take in the riders 3 times and with lots of shade to keep cool, this is another top spot to sit back and enjoy the race.
San Remo Pasta Stage 1 details
Start: 11:00 am – Murray Street, Tanunda
Finish: 2:25pm (approx) – Murray Street, Angaston
You can follow Jason Kohlmorgen on twitter – @jasonkohlmorgen