THE cream of international cycling talent has descended on South Australia to battle it out for glory on the state’s roads for each of the past 19 years.

But how has the Santos Tour Down Under gone from humble origins to attracting more than 800,000 spectators annually and the first UCI World Tour race held outside Europe?

We take a look back at two decades of the tour as the planet’s best riders again prepare to touch down in Adelaide for the January 13 start.

1999

The Tour Down Under is launched with the support of then SA Premier John Olsen. It is seen as an effort to fill the gap in the state’s sporting calendar left by the Australian Formula One Grand Prix moving from Adelaide to Melbourne. The inaugural six-stage race is won by SA rider Stuart O’Grady, who holds off Dane Jesper Skibby and Swede Magnus Backstedt to claim overall honours.



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