Of course, without the 'Lance factor', it's going to be a tough ask for Mike Turtur and co to make the race even bigger and better next year. But I came across this article the other day that's made me excited already about what the 2012 TDU might bring. For those interested in the TDU as a race, rather than as an event/spectacle, it makes for fascinating reading...
Turtur targets mountain maestros for TDU 2012
Val Migliaccio From: The Advertiser January 24, 2011 7:12pm
A SPRINTERS' paradise since 1999, the Tour Down Under is targeting cycling's hilltop hoods for 2012.
Race director Mike Turtur is set to dangle a pot of gold to the UCI World Tour teams' specialist climbers in an effort to tweak the dimensions of the coveted race.
Turtur said the organisation was close to sealing a hilltop stage finish which is set to challenge the peloton's climbing legs for the first time.
"We're really struggling in the small towns we've got now, some of the diversion points are just adequate at the moment and everything has to be perfect," he said.
"We need to put in corporate stands, we need TV outside broadcast areas, we need a teams diversion area, event parking and official parking so massive areas that need to be catered for."
But he wouldn't divulge possible locations until the deal was finalised.
Turtur said logistics had ruled out ideal hilltop locations including Mt Lofty.
While the 13th edition of the race was declared by Turtur as the most successful race on record due to the assembled sprint field being equalled only during the the Tour de France, race organisers are hoping to attract the mountain kings.
The Schleck brothers, Andy and Frank, and Australia's Matthew Lloyd and a host of expert climbers may well answer the Down Under call if their team bosses are convinced with the early-season hilltop finish.
"The Schlecks - I saw (Leopard Trek general manager) Brian Nygaard and he told me he was dead keen to get them out," Turtur said.
"It's about trying to convince the team owners for them to come here."
While the new finish is set to tweak the focus towards climbing specialists rather than just sprint guns, Turtur said he wouldn't put on a "Mickey Mouse" time trial just for the sake of it.
Not unless the event was guaranteed to meet stringent UCI standards.
"If we're going to do it, a team time trial or an individual time trial ... we're a World Tour event," Turtur said.
"We've got to get a time trial bike, discs, wheels, skin suits, otherwise it's Mickey Mouse unless we do it fair dinkum.
"I don't believe the riders are ready to come here and do an individual time trial and if we had a team time trial to open this race, maybe HTC- Highroad would be one to seven (in order).
"If that's the case, that's it (the race is ) all over red rover before the final stage."
Turtur also declared Mark Cavendish would be back to win stages in 2012.
The world's best sprinter's week on the bike turned into a nightmare.
Cavendish crashed during the prologue, was banged up again and required stitches before the Mannum finish last Wednesday and was forgotten by the official convoy at Stirling on Thursday.
Despite a tough week, Turtur said Cavendish was in good spirits when the pair had a heart-to-heart last night.
"He enjoyed his experience and he respects the race," Turtur said. "In his exact words he said: `I will win stages and I will be back'."
Good to hear that Cav has no hard feelings about the traffic stuff-up on Stage 3, but what I'm really interested in is where this possible hilltop stage finish might be. Arguably the best hills in SA are the main ones leading out of the city (i.e. Norton Summit, Greenhill Rd, Freeway to Mt Lofty, etc), but the problem with all those is that it would require closing some major suburban roads, and I'm not sure of the logistics of that. 'Live' racing doesn't usually happen in the suburbs, as the race is neutralised from suburban stage starts until the riders have reached less built-up areas. A hilltop finish could be possible at Willunga, but it's not a particularly long hill, and there's no nearby town at the top of the hill to host the stage finish (unless you extended onto Mt Compass, but that wouldn't really be a proper hilltop finish and I doubt the town is big enough to host a finish anyway).