Tour Down Under likely to use heat protocol

The Tour Down Under faces another blast furnace as the World Tour cycling race prepares to enact its heat policy.

Race director Mike Turtur predicts one of the early stages next week will be shortened because of the forecast temperatures.

Caleb Ewan sucks in the water at Victor Harbour during the 2018 Tour Down Under.Credit:AAP

Adelaide scorchers have been a recurring theme through the Tour's 21-year history, with the January temperature regularly climbing into the 40s.

That is the forecast for next Tuesday's opening stage and also on Wednesday, before a cool change drops the temperature into the more-manageable low 30s.

Last year, stage four started an hour early as the heat hit the mid-40s.

The Tour's annual community ride, held on the same route at the race stage, was cancelled.

Turtur said the final decision would be made on Monday about any race changes because of the forecast heat.

"It's fair enough to say there will be a modification of a stage," he said.

"But that will be agreed on and announced on Monday."

Turtur is talking with riders' representative Adam Hansen and team directors' representative Matt White over the weekend, ahead of a meeting on Monday with all the teams.

Turtur also warned that if there are extreme bushire warnings, those will also impact the Tour.

"Everyone needs to understand – if there was a catastrophic rating for any region, then the race cannot enter that region," he said.

"We need to also bear that in mind, but that will be considered when and if that happens – it's one of those things we can't control

"But certainly we have all the necessary protocols in place to deal with it."

Australian star Richie Porte said the weather could determine how much stage three on Thursday impacts the race.

The 146.2km stage from Lobethal to Uraidla in the Adelaide Hills features six loops of a challenging circuit and it could be pivotal.

"It just depends how it's ridden … it's a pretty tricky, hard stage," Porte said.

"If it's a hot day and the peloton doesn't feell like riding hard, then it could also mean nothing.

"But looking at the course, if the proverbial hits the fan there, it's going to be a good fight"

Just as the Uraidla loop is a new addition to the Tour route, there has been a big shake-up for the end of the six-day race.

Rather than the traditional Adelaide street race, it will end with the Tour's famous Queen Stage at Willunga.

Porte has won the last five Willunga stages, but finished second overall last year on countback to Mitchelton-Scott's South African ace Daryl Impey.

Porte has joined Trek-Segafredo and will be their main rider at the Tour de France.

"It's a good, challenging course and it's just nice to come to Adelaide in January," the Tasmanian said of the Tour Down Under.

"This race is fantastic, it's so well-organised and it's just a great way to start the year."

Amanda SprattCredit:Brook Mitchell

• A brief course deviation did nothing to derail Amanda Spratt and her powerful Mitchelton-Scott team at the Santos Women’s tour.

Spratt’s new teammate Grace Brown won stage three at Stirling in the Adelaide Hills. Fellow Mitchelton-Scott rider Gracie Elvin was fourth and Spratt took fifth to preserve her commanding 49-second overall lead.

With only Sunday’s Adelaide street race to come, Spratt will successfully defend the overall title.

There was brief drama about 12km from the finish of the 104.5km Adelaide Hills stage from Nairne when the race went the wrong way.

But there was no breakaway and the disruption did not affect the stage result.

After Spratt won the second stage and took the overall lead, Mitchelton-Scott were keen to share the spoils.

‘‘It was the team plan for me and Gracie to have a going the final here and it’s really awesome after all the hard work that I get a victory myself,’’ Brown said.

‘‘It was a really hard day actually, much harder than I was expecting.

‘‘I think my legs are feeling it from the last two days and there was a little bit of doubt, especially after the neutralisation I felt a bit dead, but I think everyone felt it.’’

Spratt was cautious about her overall lead, noting she crashed in the final stage last year, but she looks impegnable.

Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur had sympathy for the women’s tour officials after their stage went the wrong way.

‘‘I am sure the commissaires would have managed the situation,’’ Turtur said. ‘‘It’s an organiser’s worst nightmare, it’s happened to us previously, many years ago.

‘‘It happened on the (Cadel) Evans race a couple of years back, it’s one of those things.‘‘It’s unfortunate, (but) it’s normally dealt with in a way that no-one is disadvantaged, so I’m sure that happened today.’’

– AAP

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