The 2011 ProTeam season gets under way next week with the Santos Tour Down Under in South Australia, but the thoughts of the peloton are very much with the victims of the floods 1,000 miles away, with riders pledging to donate prize money from Sunday’s Cancer Council Classic in Adelaide to the Queensland Flood Relief Fund.
Three Australian past winners of the Tour Down Under, Team Sky’s Simon Gerrans and Michael Rogers and Allan Davis of Astana, led efforts to ensure that all of the riders taking part in Sunday’s race are behind the initiative, which will raise A$12,000 for the cause.
Davis, himself from Queensland, said: "We cannot sit back and do nothing, it is not the Aussie spirit, this is our way of helping."
Another Queenslander, Robbie McEwen, who recently joined Team RadioShack after the collapse of Pegasus Sports, will also be raising money for the fund, joining forces with team leader Lance Armstrong for a Twitter ride tomorrow morning.
"People have been hard hit by this crisis and whatever small role we can play to help we will but we urge everyone to make a donation to the official Premier's Flood Relief Appeal," explained McEwen.
"It is important to all of us to feel like we can help make a difference as we see what is unfolding in our own country. Cyclists are a compassionate group and happy to chip in," added Simon Gerrans.
As well as the donation of prize money, all 19 teams taking part in the Tour Down Under will supply a signed jersey to be auctioned on eBay on behalf of the fund victims.
"Cycling fans have an opportunity to bid for a once in a life time piece of sporting memorabilia," commented Davis.
Although tomorrow evening’s 51km criterium is sponsored by the Cancer Council SA charity, its chief executive, Professor Brenda Wilson, added her backing to efforts to raise money for victims of the floods, which have left at least 27 people dead and twice as many missing, as well as making thousands homeless.
"Cancer doesn't stop for the floods, but the Cancer Council can," said Professor Wilson. "That's why we're dedicating a day of collections by Ride for a Reason volunteers during IG Markets Stage 2 of Santos Tour Down Under from Tailem Bend to Mannum via Murray Bridge in support of flood victims.
There will also be a minute’s silence for victims of the floods prior to that stage next Wednesday.
Bids for signed team jerseys can be made on the eBay Australia site from Sunday, and donations to the Queensland Flood Relief Find can be made directly here.
The Tour Down Under proper begins on Tuesday, and we will be providing a full preview of the race here on road.cc very soon.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.