Riders in this year's Santos Tour Down Under have agreed to donate the prize money from yesterday's race-opening criterium to victims of the floods that have devastated the Australian state of Queensland.
"People have been hard hit by this crisis and whatever small role we can play to help we will, but we urge everyone to make a donation to the official Premier's Flood Relief Appeal," said RadioShack rider and Queenslander Robbie McEwen.
McEwen's teammate, Lance Armstrong, said he would personally donate $50,000 towards flood relief, with funds also being raised by a 'Twitter ride' at Wrigley Reserve, Glenelg on Saturday. Donations can be made at www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html.
All 19 teams will donate a signed team jersey by every competing rider for auction on eBay. To bid, visit www.ebay.com.au. "We can't sit back and do nothing," said Astana rider Allan Davis, who's from Bundaberg, Queensland. "It's not the Aussie spirit. This is our way of helping."
South Australia's Cancer Council, the race's official charity partners and sponsors of yesterday's 51km Cancer Council Classic criterium, will also do their bit. Volunteers will collect donations for the flood relief effort along the route of the race's second stage. That stage will also be preceded by a minute's silence for victims of the disaster.
"Cancer doesn't stop for the floods, but the Cancer Council can," said Professor Brenda Wilson, chief executive of Cancer Council SA. "That's why we're dedicating a day of collections by Ride For A Reason volunteers during IG Markets Stage 2 of the Santos Tour Down Under, from Tailem Bend to Mannum via Murray Bridge, in support of flood victims."
More than 80 towns in Queensland, including the state's capital of Brisbane, have been hit by once-in-a-century floods in recent weeks that have killed at least 16 people and covered an area larger than France and Germany combined.
Rolling on in Queensland
Despite the devastation caused by flooding, Cycling Queensland have confirmed that the state's junior track titles will go ahead as planned in Townsville on 20-22 January. The site of the championships, Idalia Velodrome, hasn't been directly affected by the floods.
A survey of participants indicated that most wanted the event to go ahead. Some 91 percent of respondents said they hadn't been directly affected by the water. Most of the remaining nine percent said they were currently stranded but were hopeful of being able to attend once waters receded.