Organisers of the Santos Tour Down Under say they will resist any attempt to move the race to later in the year from its current slot of late January, with the UCI thought to be keen to change when the race is held to February.
This year’s race, won by BMC Racing’s Rohan Dennis, finished in Adelaide yesterday. It’s the first WorldTour even of the season, with the second, Paris-Nice, not taking place until March.
World cycling’s governing body is considering narrowing the gap between the two races from 2017 onwards as part of its plans to overhaul the top-level racing calendar and introduce a greater narrative to the season.
At present, the race, which is organised by the South Australian government, coincides with the final week of the school summer holidays – pupils in the state start the new academic year tomorrow, following today’s Australia Day national holiday.
Race director Mike Turtur, quoted on Seven News, insists it makes sense for the race to remain in its present slot.
"It allows families and people to come to South Australia to experience the race," he explained. "During the summer period, the weather's good here but the most important factor, and the reason we wanted the race in January, was because of the holiday period.
"[It] works really well for us from a business point of view and a tourism point of view, so the UCI will take all that into consideration when they make decisions leading into the future."
Addy Engels, sports director at Giant-Alpecin, also supported the race continuing to be held in late January, saying: ''I'm happy with the way it is now. I mean, it's good the break there is between the end of the season and the start here.”
In 2012, a summit finish on Old Willunga Hill was included for the first time and has featured in every edition since, becoming a signature feature of the race.
Turtur said the introduction of other climbs such as Paracombe and Corkscrew Hill had also benefited the race, "but we don't want them to be in the race every year because I think it gets too much repetition," adding, "we're also on the lookout for another possibility for 2016."
While the licence for the race, which attracts around three quarters of a million spectators annually, is due to expire next year, Turtur is confident it will stay in South Australia rather than the state losing out to a rival bid from elsewhere in Australia.
"As long as those numbers are very strong into the future, the race will be here to stay," he maintained.
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.