This Australian race is the first pro race of the calendar year. Travel to Australia takes forever, but the entire race takes place around the city of Adelaide, South Austrlia. Racers and fans can stay in the same hotel for the week instead of shuttling from one start point to the next every day. The sun is shining during the warm antipodean summer, and the fans turn out over 100,000 strong to see the big names of European and American cycling.
Entry fees for the better known Pro teams are often waived at less prestigious cycling races, and some of the bigger draws are paid for their participation. The South Australia Premier Mike Rann has drawn some fire for failing to disclose how much his state government paid Lance Armstrong to appear at the race. (State premiers in Australia are the chief executive of the state government, functionally similar to U.S. state governors, but Australian states also have governors who are symbolic representatives of the British crown.)
The TDU is the inaugeral race for Lance Armstrong's new Team Radio Shack, as well as for the reconstituted Astana Cycling Team (old website). Other teams racing this week in Adelaide are Saxo-Bank, Milram, Caisse d'Epargne, Liquigas, Katusha, Garmin, Quick Step, Ag2R La Mondiale, Rabobank, HTC Columbia, BMC, Francaise Des Jeux, Footon-Servetto-Fuji, and Euskaltel - Euskadi. Finally, there's UniSA-Australia, which is the University of South Australia cycling team combined with other top Aussie talent to make a kind of Aussie all star team.