24 Jun 2024

DEFINITIVE ELEMENTS OF THE RACE 

Hello to Brighton and Unley 
Two new start locations feature in this latest edition of the women’s race. First up is beachside Brighton, where the peloton will gather to begin Ziptrak Stage 1. A wide stretch of sand and sparkling water make this a favourite spot to cool off each summer. For riders, though, respite won’t come until the finish line at Aldinga Beach that afternoon. 

Inner-south Unley welcomes the action on Health Partners Stage 2. All eyes will be on King William Road as cyclists and their team vehicles assemble ahead of the toughest women’s stage yet. Following a neutral start racing will begin shortly before an ascent of Windy Point at Belair, later culminating in two huge climbs up Willunga Hill.  

Willunga, but make it tougher 
There was one definitive scene from the 2024 Santos Tour Down Under women’s race: that of Australian Sarah Gigante dropping her rivals and conquering Willunga Hill like never before. It was an effort that ultimately earned her overall victory. The storied climb returns for our next edition, though this time the workload has grown even tougher.  

Riders will make their first ascent of Willunga Hill 97 kilometres into the stage, followed by a loop back through McLaren Vale and the township of Willunga before another push to a summit finish. Team tactics are set to be all-important here, and a solo cyclist after pass one may well be reeled back to the bunch once action returns to the flat.  

Ochre in the balance 
Significant variation across the three women’s stages – sprints, huge climbs and plenty of undulating territory too – will limit potential for an early winner to secure an unassailable time buffer. It sets up a thrilling third day of competition, with all eyes on Stirling as it hosts the start and finish of a huge deciding stage.  

ZIPTRAK STAGE 1: BRIGHTON TO ALDINGA BEACH
Friday 17 January 2025

At a glance 
The beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula features in our 101.9-kilometre opening women’s stage. All the action begins in Brighton, about half an hour south of Adelaide. Race neutral ends at Hallett Cove, with stage highlights including a pass over the spectacular Myponga Reservoir wall, sprints at Aldinga Beach and Yankalilla and a scenic loop through holiday destinations including Carrickalinga and Normanville. Beyond the idyllic scenery, however, this stage demands grit.

Sprints
Riders will cover almost 35 kilometres before the first Ziptrak sprint, set to take place through the Snapper Point finish at Aldinga Beach. For this pass the peloton will head south, the opposite direction to their final push to the line that afternoon. Look for a second sprint on Yankalilla’s main street once the riders reach the 71.7-kilometre mark.

Climbs
A category one ascent of Heatherdale Hill at Sellicks Hill will be the peloton’s first chance at efex Queen of the Mountain points. It extends over 9.6 kilometres, with a total ascent of 365 metres, a maximum gradient of 14.4 per cent and a more modest average incline of 3.8 per cent. The women will tackle this climb about 50 kilometres into the stage, and less than 10 kilometres after passing through a feed zone.  

Finish
Snapper Point is a longtime host of hotly contested sprints, and saw its first stage finish in 2023 when Daria Pikulik of Human Powered Health took the win. Now we await another. There’s good reason this stretch of coastline is loved for summer getaways: its sandy shores are made for relaxation while still being in easy reach of Adelaide. For those on two wheels, however, there’s work to do. Positioning ahead of this fast finish will be crucial, and crosswinds could also come into play.

HEALTH PARTNERS STAGE TWO: UNLEY TO WILLUNGA HILL
Saturday 18 January 2025

At a glance
Who can step up when it counts? We’ll find out on day two of women’s racing, with the peloton to begin in cosmopolitan Unley and end atop the infamous Willunga Hill. The journey there presents its own complexities: an ascent of Windy Point, followed by technical twists through the hills of Coromandel Valley and Kangarilla before the push to McLaren Vale. Riders will be surrounded by renowned vineyards for much of this second stage, visiting the township of Willunga twice on their path to a summit finish.

Sprints 
McLaren Flat will host the first Ziptrak sprint on this stage. It comes 56.4 kilometres into racing – just over the halfway point – and will see the women travel east before completing a loop through McLaren Vale and lining up to sprint a second time through the township of Willunga at the 88.6-kilometre mark. From there the peloton’s most tenacious climbers will come to the front. Shut up legs!

Climbs
Category one climbs begin and end the day – and action begins less than 10 kilometres after riders leave Unley. Windy Point is up first: a 3.8-kilometre slog with an average gradient of six per cent and a punishing maximum of 20 per cent. The peloton will ascend 229 metres on this climb, emerging on Belair Road and racing further into the foothills.  

Willunga Hill looms as the stage’s biggest test. Its stats are formidable: three kilometres, a total ascent of 224 metres, a maximum gradient of 15.6 per cent and an average of 7.4 per cent. One journey to the top requires skill. Two demands greatness.  

Finish
We’ve seen so much magic on Willunga Hill already, including Sarah Gigante’s extraordinary effort last January. This time leading climbers have to consider their first ascent, a descent and 22-kilometre loop back towards Willunga and then the last push to the line. Expect a full team effort as the women chase victory, and a result set to prompt an aggressive final day in the saddle. 

HYUNDAI STAGE THREE: STIRLING TO STIRLING
Sunday 19 January 2025

At a glance
It all comes down to Stirling. This third stage extends across 105.9 kilometres, travelling in an anti-clockwise direction from the start line and passing through communities including Heathfield, Mylor and Aldgate. Five-and-a-half loops are on the agenda, demanding not only stamina but a game plan from the outset. Climbers and all-rounders will have a general classification win on their minds – and weary legs from the previous two days. Who wants it the most?

Sprints
Both Ziptrak sprints on this stage will be contested on Longwood Road at Heathfield – the first 45.1 kilometres into racing and the second after 66.4 kilometres of the stage are completed. With multiple riders potentially in contention for victory, bonus seconds awarded through sprint wins could prove crucial. A total of 16 seconds are up for grabs in this final day of women’s racing.

Climbs
Riders will earn efex Queen of the Mountain points on two passes up the category three Stirling climb. It stretches over two kilometres and reaches a maximum gradient of 11.1 per cent, though its average is a far milder 3.7 per cent. But don’t write this one off. Given the peloton’s likely pace – and the five ascents in total they are set to complete here – the incline will still make its mark. 

Finish 
Ready? Stirling will turn it on once again as the world’s best storm home. The big question is whether we’ll see a change in general classification honours – or whether the race leader following stage two at Willunga Hill is able to hold on. What we do know, however, is that this one will be special. 

Read our guide to the 2025 Men's Stages.

 

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

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