The Tour Down Under proper got under way today in Adelaide, and, as predicted, and as happened last year, the race is all but over after the first stage. Well, it is and it isn't.
The more cynical in the press room would think the former, and yes, we know that the winner is going to come from one of 18 riders. But it's a little harsh, I reckon, to just write the race off just like that. Yes, all 14 teams were represented in the front group, but it still means that they've all got to fight to get their man into a winning position. And four teams â Predictor-Lotto, Bouygues Telecom, SouthAustralia.com-AIS and CSC â have the luxury of two riders still up there. Plus the Aussie fans â and the rest of us â can look forward to some sprinting battle royales over the coming days between Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Allan Davis and Baden Cooke.
But it's a problem often seen in these week-long stage races, with no opening individual or team time trial. When, like today, all the teams throw a rider in the first proper breakaway of the first day, then why wouldn't the peloton sit back and enjoy the scenery, keeping their powder dry for the days to follow? Perhaps an opening time trial is the only solution.