Santos Women’s Tour Race Director Kimberley Conte has built the race around the prized wine regions of the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa, with two criterium stages in Adelaide to set the pace for a fast four days of racing. Here’s Kimberley’s guide to what the Santos Women’s Tour holds for the riders 2017.
- Subaru Queen of the Mountain: Paris Creek Road, Paris Creek (102.4km)
- Sprint: Mawson Road, Meadows
The opening stage of the Santos Womens Tour begins in the Adelaide Hills village of Hahndorf, taking in rolling green hills and pastures along the way.
“This stage goes through farms in the Adelaide Hills; it’s really undulating and picturesque,” says Kimberley.
She says the road to Meadows is nothing too technical or difficult, but it’s a slow introduction for what’s to come on the infamous Paris Creek Road.
“There is a descent coming into the town of Meadows, so they’ll be coming into town quite quickly. They’ll pass through town and then they’re going to do this big loop through Yundi, Nangkita and Strathalbyn before they hit Paris Creek Road,” says Kimberley.
“Paris Creek Road is really infamous with cyclists here, because it’s hard; it’s a really long slog up hill, and it’s late in the race. You’ll probably get your climbers charging up the hill because they realise that’s where they need to attack, and it’s only a few kilometres from the finish line and that’s really what’ll prompt them to attack there.”
“This stage will be important for the GC, the overall winner, and really important for any of the climbers because it’s got probably the longest and the hardest climb for the whole Tour, and there’s a good chance that your winner’s jersey could come out of that.”
“It’s a good stage, it’ll be hard – they’re going to know about it.”
- Primes: Wakefield Road, laps 4,8,12 and 14
Put simply: expect a really fast race. Though the 2017 People’s Choice Classic circuit is slightly longer than the 2016 version, the race is still anticipated to be seriously quick.
“Last year the riders were so speedy that they were finished before anyone knew about it – the average speeds were quite high so we expect them, straight from the start they’re really going to go.”
Kimberley says this stage is the chance for sprinters to gain back precious seconds after losing out to the climbers on Stage 1.
“In each one of the sprints there are bonus seconds to add to their overall lead. So even though in the day before on the climb, the overall rider might’ve broken away and gained some time, the sprinters have a chance to claw back some of that time because they get time bonuses each time they cross through one of those sprints. That makes it a new race all over again.”
“A good stage, I’m looking forward to this one a lot.”
- Subaru Queen of the Mountain: Whispering Wall, Williamstown (x2)
- Sprint: Barossa Valley Way, Lyndoch (x2)
There was one big thing in mind for Kimberley when setting this stage through the Barossa; the palm-tree lined drive into Seppeltsfield.
“For me, when I think about the Tour, I just see those big palm trees in the shot. It just looks so “wow”, and I think for the women, to take them through that classic Tour territory is pretty important for them to see,” she says.
“It’s very undulating all through Rowland Flat – it’s really up and down. And then they come in for the first time into Lyndoch – that’s the first sprint. People at the finish line in Lyndoch will actually see the race three times, they’ll see two sprints and a finish, which is excellent. We’re doing two laps of this circuit.”
She says the undulating course leads to one of the toughest climbs in this year’s race – but it’s nothing these riders can’t handle.
“Again they’re going to have some time to try and get some points on that QOM jersey; we’re going to go up the Whispering Wall climb twice. The girls know it well, so it’s not anything for them that’s foreign, they’ve done it before. But it’s a climb that can take it out of you if you’re not paying attention.
“At every opportunity they’ll attack on there and try to get away. Stage 3 will finalise the QOM jersey, as there are no more climbs in the final stage the next day.”
“This is a long downhill after this climb, so the sprinters will usually let the climbers go and then they try to catch them on the descents. On those descents the sprinters will be just letting it all out, they’re going to really take a lot of risks potentially, especially if there’s been a breakaway.”
- Primes: Start/finish stretch, laps 10, 15, 20 and 25
Stage 4 takes the riders back into the city for the hotly-contested criterium in Victoria Park. A slight change this year, the race will include four prime laps; two more than last year.
“This means more chances for bonus time. This could potentially mean that the jersey winner overall could change on this day,” she says.
“They’ll have to really think about how they set up the riders on this course, as it’s short and punchy and they’re going to all want to be at the front. It’s going to get crowded and they’ll have to think about what they’re doing, where they’re placing their rider, and which lap.”
Kimberley says the final few laps is where the really exciting action will take place, with riders jostling for position ahead of the final sprint to the finish line.
“When it comes up to there being only a couple of laps to go, you’ll see them start to bring these trains up and it’ll bring the girls up to the front that they want to sprint. And then hopefully everyone will get out of the way and let them take those points and those seconds.”
“This should be really, really quick.”
The Santos Women’s Tour will be held from 14-17 January 2017 in South Australia.