Our second week in Adelaide kicked off with live cycling. Sunday’s criteria in Adelaide’s East End nicely capped off my birthday weekend. There’s nothing better than watching a spot of fast and furious sprinting while sitting in the shade, sipping a cooling drink! Cylance’s sprinter, Kirsten Wild, won the ladies’ event, the second stage of the Santos Women’s Tour. Home fires were stoked when Caleb Ewan, the national criterium champion, pipped everyone else to take back-to-back victories in the People’s Choice Classic. Much was made of his victory over Sagan, but the latter was leading out Sam Bennett who, even though he got blocked, finished runner up. Sagan was third and afterwards you could see him proffering words of wisdom to Sammy B who’ll undoubtedly benefit from Sagan’s mentorship.
Monday we were back at the Adelaide Oval where I had fried in the sun last year. It was a make or break match for the Melbourne Renegades v Adelaide Strikers. My beloved assured me he’d purchased tickets in the shade. He hadn’t. Luckily, I’d bought my hat, shades and plenty of ice cold refreshments. I’ve made sure he’s noted the East stand is NOT in the shade. The match was nip and tuck but the Renegades’ superior fielding skills saw them win. The Strikers are now bottom of the BBL.
Tuesday saw the start of the Santos Tour Down Under which steers a route through all the loveliest parts of Adelaide. I like to think they’ve taken a leaf out of the Tour de France. Stage one finished in Lyndoch but, having been at the start in the rather smart suburb of Unley, we thought we might watch the final four loops around the Barossa from Williamstown, southern gateway to the Valley. It allegedly boasts the oldest remaining pub in Australia, dating back to 1841, and several original farm homesteads, despite being rocked by a large earthquake in 1956. However, we finally decided to head for lunch in Lyndoch. It was pretty warm (typical British understatement) and we found a shady spot at a local restaurant where we could watch the peloton pass by. On account of the wind, and high temperatures, the race was wisely shortened by a circuit. It was win number two for Caleb Ewan.
Wednesday’s stage was pivotal in determining the overall. The riders rode out from Stirling, adjudged the prettiest town on the Tour’s route, completing a number of circuits before heading to the summit finish in Paracombe. Porte was on fire and no one could touch him, he finished so far ahead that, barring an accident, the laurels would finally be his. Thursday’s sprint stage was a trip down the coast from Glenelg to Victor Harbor. Our friends were staying in Glenelg and it was good to see the kids enjoying themselves so much. They’ve loved being in Australia and don’t want to go home. I can sympathise. Thursday and Friday’s sprint stages were hovered up by Caleb Ewan. It was looking more and more like an Australian clean sweep.
Saturday dawned fair and we watched the riders set off from McLaren Vale where you couldn’t move for cyclists. We slipped away and headed via the back roads to watch the showdown on Willunga Hill, the second summit finish which confirmed the GC standings. Porte had achieved his heart’s desire and gotten his 2017 season off to a flying start. Caleb Ewan won the closing criterium around Adelaide to achieve an Aussie clean sweep. The fans were delighted but also been thrilled by the charm and accessability of world champion Peter Sagan, his second visit here, and Esteban Chaves, on his maiden visit.
With our days spent in the open air, we were quite happy to have a light dinner, relaxing and watching the cricket having profited by eating out at lunchtime in either the start or finish towns, enjoying the abundant local produce. But our time in Adelaide was now over. It was with some regret that we packed up the car and headed to our first overnight stop in Portland on our way back to Melbourne. We have unfinished business with Adelaide. We want to visit Kangaroo Island, the Yorke Peninsula, and Clare, plus spend more time in the lovely Fleurieu Peninsula. We will be back.