15 Sep 2022

Sizing up the Challenge Tour route? We know you can do it. And we’ve found just the person to help: Santos Tour Down Under Race Director Stuart O’Grady OAM. With almost three decades as a professional, Olympic gold and a Paris Roubaix win under his belt, this trailblazer knows how to deliver when it counts. He’s also very familiar with the leg-burning climbs set to define our next Challenge Tour. Here are Stuey’s tips. 

Embrace the challenge

Whether you opt for the full 123.5km ride or the 83km option which skips Checker Hill, preparation is crucial. Tackle the challenge by adding more climbs to your rides and boosting your endurance – the earlier the better. 

“It’s good to have a challenge,” Stuey says. “This will be a true challenge. It’s a stage of the Santos Tour Down Under which will be difficult for the pros, and there will be a lot of people who see it as a really big challenge. Others will see it as an opportunity to compare themselves on a climb against the pros.” 

Already logging top Strava times up big ascents? We see you. The Challenge Tour is a chance to push your limits in the same conditions as the international peloton.  

“What better opportunity for enthusiasts than to race the best bike riders in the world up any one of the three climbs?” Stuey says. 

Use the entire road

Closed roads will feature in the Challenge Tour for the first time – a move that means ample room for amateurs to spread out. 

“It will make the ride a lot more realistic,” Stuey says. “You can take the corners and have more space when passing people. It’s as close to (professional) racing as you can get.” 

Pace yourself

The three Challenge Tour climbs have their own personality. Stuey recommends a strategy for each. 

Norton Summit 

“This is one of the most well-ridden and well used by cyclists in general,” he says. “It’s not a steep climb, but the gradient and the difficulty are more in the length of the climb.  

“It’s a long, slow burn, and it’s one that has a long history with the Australian Institute of Sport and us training up it at Olympic level.” 

Checker Hill

“It’s the opposite of Norton Summit – short and incredibly steep. I think the only tactic is to find a good rhythm at the bottom and try not to explode before the top.”

Corkscrew Road

“The Corkscrew in my opinion is one of the most difficult climbs we have in the state,” Stuey says. “It starts off quite unassuming, then it gets steeper and steeper. The middle section is well over 20 per cent, and then it just keeps going. It’s quite famous for its sharp, steep hairpins.” 
Corkscrew is the 2023 Challenge Tour’s final climb, so empty the tank and make this adventure your own.

Celebrate your success

Challenge Tour riders will have earned their rest once across the finish line. And Stuey says taking time to relax and celebrate the achievement is important. 

“It doesn’t matter if you’re out there to cruise along and enjoy the view or whether you are pushing yourself to your limit – everyone has a different story and is at a different stage of their life,” he says. 

“For some it will be a massive accomplishment; others will be going as fast as they can or riding with a group of friends and trying to achieve something special together.” 

Stuey says Challenge Tour riders will be encouraged to spend the afternoon in Campbelltown. 

“They can grab a drink, watch (the men’s race) on big screens with their friends and then get an autograph or photo with their idol afterwards. It’s a pretty cool opportunity.” 


The Santos Tour Down Under is part of the UCI World Tour

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