Sport Cycling Fire threatens start of cycling tour

Fire threatens start of cycling tour

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SA’s bushfire crisis could force Tour Down Under organisers to cancel stage one.

It would be the first time in the event’s 15-year history that organisers have had to change any part of the race.

After Sunday’s Adelaide street race, the Tour itself starts on Tuesday with a 135km road stage from Nuriootpa to Angaston in the Barossa region north of the city.

The Barossa is threatened by one of four large fires burning in the state.

Race director Mike Turtur said they will have to wait until meeting with authorities at 5pm on Monday before they decide whether to hold the stage.

A women’s road race is also due to be held in the Barossa on Monday as part of the Tour activities.

“It’s a serious situation – firstly, our thoughts are with the people who’ve been affected by this fire and also the people on the ground fighting it,” Turtur said at Saturday’s pre-race media conference.

“From a race point of view, we’re taking regular updates from authorities in terms of what’s happening there.

“If it’s a no-go zone for the Barossa, it’s a no-go zone – simple as that.

“(It’s) possibly the cancellation of the stage, depending on the advice from the correct people.”

“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.”

Turtur said it would be impossible to reschedule the stage

“If we’re doing a track race, no problem,” he said.

“When you’re dealing with the logistics of road racing, it’s difficult to redesign the stage on the run.

“It’s not an easy situation.

“We exist in a volatile environment with climatic conditions.

“Fire has always been a big consideration for us.”

While SA’s heatwave is over, windy conditions are making it impossible to predict what the fire will do.’

“It’s changing constantly – it’s the wind that’s the problem,” Turtur said.

Star Australian rider and two-time Tour winner Simon Gerrans said the cyclists would adapt if stage one does not go ahead.

“You just move onto the second stage, everyone is in the same situation,” Gerrans said.