If you’ve been struggling to find any coverage of the Tour Down Under, then tune into the Bike Channel. It’s on Freesat 251, Virgin 552 and Sky 464. And when you do you’ll pleased to hear the long lost commentary voices of Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen.
Since they left ITV last summer Phil ‘The Voice of Cycling’ Liggett has been missing from many a viewer’s life and I, for one, was filled with nostalgia to hear his assured and dulcet tones over the airwaves again. The duo are joined by former pro Robbie McEwen who, unlike some former cyclists I could mention, offers a font of relevant knowledge in an entertaining and lively style.
As far as the racing is concerned, Stage 1 was a boiling hot day with temperatures reaching over 40 degrees. It was so hot, in fact, that the race organisers cut the stage short by dropping one of the final circuits at the finish town of Lyndoch to give some reprieve to the peloton.
Laurens De Vresse from Astana led a solo breakaway for almost the entire stage. His reward for riding a 100 km time trial in insufferable heat was to pick up the most KOM and intermediate sprint points. I hope his sponsors thanked him for it at the end of a gruelling day for him.
The stage ended in a bunch sprint , as expected, with Caleb Ewan the Aussie pocket rocket crossing the line first with Sky’s Van Poppel 2nd and Bora-Hansgrohe’s Sam Bennet 3rd. Ewan is looking very sprightly having won the People’s Choice Classic on Sunday.
Tomorrow is one for the GC riders, a lumpier stage and an uphill finish up the Paracombe climb that will see the likes of Richie Porte, Simon Gerrans, Geraint Thomas and Peter Sagan all looking to take the lead. Whoever wins that will be likely to hold on to the ochre jersey to the end.