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What’s Unique about the Santos Tour Down Under?

January 13, 2012

The Santos Tour Down Under (TdU) UCI WorldTour road race begins on January 17th and concludes on January 22nd.  The six stages of the 14th edition of the TdU take place in or near Adelaide in south-central Australia. There’s a pre-race treat in the form of an evening criterium on January 15th called the Down Under Classic, which may cause some to think the TdU begins on the 15th. The Down Under Classic is a separate UCI Road Criterium event; riders circle a 1.7 km loop in Adelaide.

Unique quality one: ochre

Promotional materials draw attention to the ochre color of the overall leader’s jersey as unique to the TdU. Organizers introduced the ochre color in 2006, and write that it is a color “which is strongly associated with Australia.” Ochre?

The Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary can help here. It defines “ochre, also ocher,” as “an earthy red or yellow and often impure iron ore used as a pigment, especially the color of yellow ocher.”

Tour Down Under Ochre Leader's Jersey

Aboriginal Art Online provides some fascinating information about ochre as a material used for pigment in artwork:

“Ochre is the main pigment used in rock art and is plentiful across most of Australia. Pieces of ochre, including some showing signs of wear through use, have been found in almost all of Australia’s ice-age sites. Most have been radiocarbon dated and the dates range from 10 000 to 40 000 years…As well as rock art, ochre has many other uses in modern Aboriginal ceremony, and is repeatedly found in association with burial not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world.”

One article explains that ochre has also been ground to a power for body painting.

Red ochre rock painting of birds could be 40,000 years old

Unique quality two – addition to UCI calendar

The Santos Tour Down Under gained UCI ProTour status in 2008, which leads to the second unique characteristic of this race. According to race documents, it was the first southern hemisphere event to be listed on the UCI WorldTour calendar.

More to come, here, on this great race.

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One Comment
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