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SA Tour triumph continues

by Michèle Nardelli

Gene BatesOnce again the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under went off smoothly with record crowds (some 500,000) lining city and regional streets and roads to urge on the riders.

This year the tour also included some important races for female cyclists and was preceded by the Australian Open Road Championships in the Adelaide Hills adding substance and a more sustained build-up to the Tour.

While Team UniSA's 2004 win, led by veteran Patrick Jonker in a dream last race was a hard act to follow, the 2005 event was still satisfying.

Team UniSA ran a creditable fourth in the event and dynamic young rider Gene Bates, was hailed 2005 King of the Mountain.

Be active participantsFor four of the young SA riders it was their fifth year riding for Team UniSA and many of them have made the Tour Down Under a launching pad for their professional cycling ambitions.

And from a broader perspective, the Tour Down Under proved a gala event for UniSA. Thinking on Two Wheels, a successful cycling seminar, was staged to a full house the day prior to the start of the racing, putting a focus on cycling related health and planning research. The Be Active Tour for amateur riders had a record 1900 entrants with more than 50 UniSA staff members taking up the challenge. UniSA also sponsored the special Kids Tour, a new event run before stage six of the race that saw hundreds of SA kids on everything from mountain bikes to dragsters taking to the road.

UniSA Tour rider laider in actionUniSA flags lined the streets and many people with no other strong connection to UniSA were logging on to the special Team UniSA Supporters' Club website to follow their favourite riders, try to win some great giveaways and seek daily reports from Patrick Jonker.

Each year the Tour Down Under gets better and better. And every year the cynics report that SA may well have the event snatched away to be held in some other Australian city. But if partnerships and relationships as strong as the one developed between UniSA and the Tour and the affection that thousands of South Australians show for the event are any indication, the Tour Down Under will have to be prised away from us.

For more pictures of the 2005 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under and Team UniSA in action visit our Team UniSA photo gallery at www.unisa.edu.au/tdu.