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Bush fires may force Tour Down Under Stage 1 to be cancelled

Heatwave sparks fires in Barossa Valley, race director says safety must come first

Bush fires in South Australia could force the cancellation of Tuesday’s opening stage of the Santos Tour Down Under, the first UCI WorldTour race of the season.

Australia has been hit by a heatwave this week, with temperatures hitting 44 degrees Celsius in Adelaide, where the race is based, on Thursday.

That has led to bushfires breaking out close to the route of Stage 1, which runs through the Barossa Valley wine-growing region.

"If it's a no-go zone for the Barossa, it's a no-go zone - simple as that," said race director Mike Turtur, quoted by Reuters.

He said the stage could potentially be cancelled, “depending on the advice from the correct people.”

Turtur added: "Any activity in the region that's deemed to be dangerous to the public, then obviously you can't ask people to go into the area.

"It would be crazy to do that."

The opening stage is unlikely to be influential in terms of the overall standings, and two-time winner and race favourite Simon Gerrans of Orica-GreenEdge said: "You just move onto the second stage, everyone is in the same situation."

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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