OUR SUPER SUNDAY CELEBRATION
FRENCH, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese or just English with a heavy accent.
The conversations in the parklands crowd last night, for the end of the women’s 2018 Tour and the beginning of the men’s event, literally gave voice to the Tour Down Under’s growth over 20 years – from an Aussie attempt to emulate great world cycling events overseas to being very much among them.
While The Advertiser didn’t have a multilingual reporter available to eavesdrop, we’re pretty certain everyone was once again having a great time at Australia’s greatest cycling race and what is now one of its most significant international sporting events.
That was supported by some words we could understand, even if they were from a foreign land of sorts – Queensland.
The McCarthy clan was in from Maryborough and found a spot on the Wakefield Rd start/finish line to cheer on 25-year-old Jay McCarthy, the BORA– hansgrohe rider who was third in last year’s Tour and a rising talent on the European circuit.
McCarthy married high school sweetheart Kerri, 26, just three months ago and while she follows him around the world, she especially loves our Tour, which she has attended seven times.
“It’s huge for Australian cycling,” Mrs McCarthy told The Advertiser, adding that this city’s embrace of the sport was something of a morale booster for recreational cyclists as well as athletes.
She thinks the Tour encourages greater awareness of cyclists on the roads and it’s clear she puts safety ahead of sporting triumph.
“There’s been so many tragedies and with my husband being a cyclist I just don’t want to see those things happen to anyone,” she said.
The success of the Tour was a “push forward” for cycling inAustralia as a way of life. “More people now know cyclists as friends or in their family group, so it becomes more relatable for them,” Mrs McCarthy said.
For all its national and international fame, the Tour remains a special event for South Australia, and South Australians. Yesterday’s festivities kicked off with the Bupa Family Ride, which returned to the People’s Classic circuit used by the pro riders and let families have their day in the perfect Adelaide summer sun.
Next came the People’s Choice Undies Run, always more of a mobile party than an athletic event and again firing a positive community mood as 1600 runners in skimpy outfits celebrated raising more than $100,000 to “kick bowel cancer’s butt”.
The crowd was already swelling by the time the serious cycling began with the final stage of the Women’s Tour. Although the fans were scattered around the circuit that partially follows the roads made famous by Formula One and V8 Supercar racing, you could tell they were there when a nasty crash was replayed on giant video screens and a collective groan could be heard through the eucalypts.
As that race ended and Amanda Spratt was declared 2018 women’s champion, thousands more people were teeming east from the city to see the 20th men’s tour begin.
SPRINTER SUPREME: Peter Sagan celebrates after winning the Tour Down Under People’s Choice Classic in Adelaide’s East End last night.
POWER DOWN: The international peloton surges through Adelaide’s East End streets during the People's Choice Classic to begin the 2018 Santos Tour Down Under.
THRILLING: Lyla, 8, and her brother Kalan, 10, cheer on the riders in the People's Choice Classic last night.
YOUNG GUNS: A beginner, above, and a future racer, top, in the People's Choice ride.