Race Director Mike Turtur reflects on the race that was
23 Jan 17
Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Mike Turtur doesn’t mind who wins the event each year, as long as it’s a quality race - and he’s yet to be disappointed.
“I don’t really care who wins, as long as it’s a good bike race and we’ve got quality winners.”
“And that’s what we’ve got.”
“The quality and what I saw on the road – I’ve never been disappointed with the race, way back since 1999.”
“I’ve never had any complaints about the riders who’ve competed. I’m really happy about it.”
He says this year’s event saw many happy firsts, including four separate category winners for the first time in the race’s history.
“To have four separate winners of the jerseys was a first for the race, it’s never happened before and of course Caleb Ewan winning four stages plus the classic is a record for the race,” he says.
“All in All, haven’t got much to complain about at all. Very happy with it.”
He says the changes to the course this year meant a little more variety for the peloton coming into the first race of the season.
“I think the riders appreciate it,” he says.
“Certainly the team management do, because they see the change of the course we’ve implement in the last few years being an opportunity for all-rounders rather than a sprinters race.
“The stages at 150k this time of year is exactly what the teams are asking for, it’s what the riders want.
“The terrain isn’t overly difficult, so we got a pretty good formula here that works well for the first race of the season. And I think if you have it any harder or any longer it’s not going to make the race any better it’ll maybe harm the race because at 150k they race really well.
“I think that’s worked extremely well for us over the years and we’ll stick with that format.”
This year’s race saw two Australian cyclists shine on their home turf; Richie Porte (BMC Racing Team), with his wins on Staging Connections Stage 2 and BikeExchange Stage 5, and Caleb Ewan (ORICA-SCOTT), winning four stages in sprint finishes, as well as the People’s Choice Classic.
Mike says the clean-sweep of Australian wins in this year’s edition was simply a result of very talented cyclists, and wasn’t directly related to their nationality.
“It’s important to acknowledge that the Australians did very, very well in the race, of course,” he says.
“nd the reason they did very well Is because they’re good bike riders.
“If they were Italians or French or whatever the case might be, it’d be the same scenario.
“These guys represent the best in the world at what they do. They just happen to be Australians.”
He says the race management is proud to see another Australian take out the Santos Tour Down Under title in 2017.
“We’re delighted that Richie Porte won the race,”
“He had a real burning desire to be successful here and for him to win is great for our event, we’re really happy that he’s going to be on the honour roll.
He says four-time Stage winner Ewan (ORICA-SCOTT) has more to look forward to as his career takes off.
“There’s a path for him to be the best sprinter in the world in a short period of time, maybe two or three years.
“He’s got a super impressive future coming up.”
Mike keeps his cards close to his chest in terms of plans for the Santos Tour Down Under in the future, saying that the task is always about finding the right balance, for cycling fans and festival goers alike.
“In terms of the festival of cycling, I think we’ve got a really good ten-day program,” he says.
“There’s a lot there for everyone; street parties, the team presentations worked really well, the Legends’ Night Dinner was terrific.
“All of these additional events that make the week what it is, it’s terrific.
“And that’s always been worked on, and trying to look for new angles and other opportunities to offer the tourists that come here from all over the place to enjoy not only the race but the celebration.”