While the Jayco Herald-Sun Tour is a fantastic event in it's own right, the global popularity of the Tour Down speaks for itself, writes Mike Tomalaris.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

So Bradley Wiggins opens up a can of worms by declaring the Herald-Sun
Tour is more prestigious than the Tour Down Under. Really?

It's a bit like comparing apple and oranges, but having covered both races as a journalist over the years I
can safely say the South Australia event has become the benchmark of
road cycling in this country.
And the reason is simple - the Lance factor. When the seven-time Tour de France winner visited Adelaide earlier this year, the TDU's prestige increased by 100%.
It was reflected by the swelling numbers of international
supporters, who travelled from all parts of the world, lining the
highways and bi-ways of South Australia during the high heat of January.
The global television exposure the TDU received as a
result of Lance's presence cannot compare to many sporting events that
originate from Australia, let alone a week-long cycle tour.
For 10 days, foreign TV crews followed Lance's every move, before,
during and even after the race finished. Not since Adelaide hosted the
Australian Formula One GrandPrix
has the city been enveloped by such hysteria than when Lance was in
town.
There was a real Tour de France feel about the event this year.
Sure, the TDU lacks big mountain stages or even a testing time
trial, but as the first race on the UCI calendar, you cannot expect
much more from the array of elite riders, especially the Euros, who are
just returning from a three month off-season.
Don't get me wrong, the Jayco Herald-Sun Tour is a magnificent event in
its own right, and has stepped up a level or two in profile since the
Victorian government's financial involvement in 2004.
Apart from this year's course, Victoria's premier race
traditionally takes in the tough terrain the for which the state is
famous.
Legendary climbs such as Baw Baw, Buller, Buffalo and others make
the event a showpiece, but I feel until the event is accepted by
European media and the public-at-large in professional cycling's
hotbed, the Jacyo Herald Sun Tour will always be classed as a "local" race.
And with all due respect, Victoria's unpredictable Spring weather does little to attract an international crowd.
It's a wonderful coup to have a rider of Bradley Wiggins' calibre
in Australia, but until the triple Olympic champion competes on the
dusty roads of South Australia under a burning summer sun, I feel he
should reserve his judgment on the relative merits of the two events.