Tour Down Under
Great news, girls and young women of Australia. You too can aspire to be a podium bimbo who wears figure-hugging, delectable smoked salmon-coloured dresses just like these hotties.
It’s true! Road cycling may have a blind spot the size of Belgium when it comes to drugs, but the sport is at the forefront of the fight against sexism.
While the men do all that silly riding, you gals can do the much more meaningful cheering. The men are forced to wear lycra, but you can experience true empowerment by dressing like a maid at a strip club. And while the men grimace in pain, you have the wonderful opportunity to practise your air smooching and general perkiness.
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Road cycling has been growing in popularity for the past few decades. This week’s Tour Down Under in South Australia is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of people to roadside vantage points throughout the state to watch some of the best riders on the globe contest the opening event of the 2012 World Tour.
Yet for the first few decades of competitive cycling, the track was the Mecca for large crowds of cycling fans. Beginning in Europe, but spreading quickly to the United States, Australia and elsewhere, the close action on the steeply banked velodromes captured the imagination of the public.
Throughout the first three decades of last century, cycling tracks were built in major cities. In the US, track cycling became one of the most popular sports in the nation. As in Europe, sporting stars and celebrities of the era were regular faces in the stands.
It is one of the most anticipated events in Australian cycling. For decades, cyclists, coaches and supporters have dreamt of having a national team at the Tour de France and the other great European races. Now, 98 years after Don Kirkham and Snowy Munro became the first Aussies – and the first non-Europeans – to ride in the Tour de France, an Australian team will join the professional peleton.
The first appearance of the Green Edge team this weekend at the Bay Criterium series in Victoria had been eagerly awaited for months. Although the Bay Crits are a warm-up series for the Australian Road Championships this week at Mt Buninyong, and the first of the World Tour races, the Santos Tour Down Under the following week in Adelaide, they have attracted the cream of the nation’s cyclists for two decades.
As the first races for the summer season, it is fitting that the Green Edge riders are participating in the keenly contested circuit races at Geelong, Port Arlington and Williamstown.
Taxpayers deserve to know what they’re forking out to sporting stars.
In South Australia, Premier Mike Rann - despite his reputation as a master of spin - has made a poor judgment when it comes to not disclosing how much Lance Armstrong is paid to appear at the Tour Down Under.
The State Government has continually refused to say how much it has paid the seven-time Tour de France winner to appear at the TDU, even claiming the information was commercial in confidence, thus putting the details out of the reach of freedom of information requests.
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Like the rhythm of the turning pedal, the professional cycling season has followed an annual pattern for a century.
As the European winter evolves into early spring, riders take their bikes from garages and leave the velodromes to venture back onto the roads in preparation for another season. Riding at first in the slush and ice of melting snow, their thoughts turn to the warmth of the Mediterranean Sea.
Known as the ‘Race to the Sun’, the professional season traditionally commenced with Paris to Nice, a weeklong race from the French capital to the southern holiday resort.
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