• Santos Tour Down Under boss Mike Turtur (R) with UCI President Brian Cookson. (AAP)Source: AAP
Missing in action at the Santos Tour Down Under, three-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome will instead start his racing program later this week in Victoria.
Cycling Central

24 Jan 2017 - 8:35 AM  UPDATED 24 Jan 2017 - 9:36 AM

It's an always vexing question but Santos Tour Down Under race director Mike Turtur is resigned to cycling star Chris Froome starting his season elsewhere in Australia.

As Turtur celebrates one of the best editions of his event's 19-year history, Froome is about to start racing this week in Victoria.

The three-time Tour de France champion, one of the sport's biggest names, will compete for the first time this year on Thursday at the new Race Melbourne.

After the Albert Park event, Froome will ride next Sunday in the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Rd race, before defending his Herald-Sun Tour title.

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Turtur met with Froome a year ago and said he understands the British rider's outlook on the Australian races.

"He knows it's not easy here - he chooses to go to the other races because it's a little bit low-key," Turtur said.

"He prefers that start, but you never know in the future, he might reconsider.

"I guess it depends a lot on how he performs in the Tour ... that might change his program.

"But of course, we'd love to have all those big riders come."

One of Froome's clear Tour de France rivals dominated the Tour Down Under, with Australian Richie Porte winning overall for the first time.

Porte shredded his rivals on the Paracombe and Willunga climbs and his main objective this year is a Tour de France podium finish.

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Amid cycling's recurring debate over race radios, Turtur was adamant, they must stay.

He was asked whether the two-way communication between team bosses and their riders might have contributed to some defensive racing during last week's event.

As Turtur noted, the riders make the race, whatever he does about the course. But he was unequivocal that race radios should stay.

World governing body the UCI has experimented with banning radios amid concerns they take the spontaneity out of race tactics.

"I don't think it dictates what happens in the race," Turtur said.

"I've been in the car many times in big races, sitting alongside the (team) director, and I was astonished how much they didn't say.

"They allow the riders to make decisions, the riders are not robots."

As a race organiser, Turtur said the radios were a huge help.

"If we have a problem ahead - a fallen tree, a bushfire, a car accident that's on the course - we can tell the riders," he said.

"We've used that several times in this race and it's been absolutely critical to the management of the race.

"In the 21st century, the radios have to stay.

"In every other sport, technology is growing and cycling is no different."

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