Tour Down Under 2014: Dates, Course Map and Stage Previews

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Tour Down Under 2014: Dates, Course Map and Stage Previews
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The Tour Down Under is known in the cycling world as the most popular road race outside of the Tour de France. With the 2014 Tour Down Under already starting with the People's Choice Classic on Sunday, the second stage officially kicked off on Tuesday.

Last year's version of the race attracted a record crowd with over 760,400, according to the Tour Down Under's official site. Following the success of the 2013 race, the race has already gotten off to a noteworthy start with Simon Gerrans winning the San Remo Pasta Stage 1.

The tour's official Twitter account provides highlights of the stage:

Simon Gerrans won the first stage of the race in just over three hours and 20 minutes. Following that stage, Gerrans spoke about the win with the Telegraph Sport:

I had to sprint really late because of the head wind [and] looking towards the end of the week, it might have been better if André had the lead but we've seen in the past few years that this race is won or lost by seconds, so you have to take every opportunity.

With four riders already out of the race after Stage 2—Thomas Voeckler, Chris Sutton, Giovanni Visconti and David Tanner—according to Amanda Lulham of the Herald Sun, the race will likely get more grueling with five stages remaining.

A course map of the entire race can be found on the Cycling the Alps website. Video of the race on the website. With five stages still remaining in the race, the action will only get hotter in Adelaide, Australia. Before the race continues on Wednesday, here is a list of the dates and stage previews.

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Coverage of the event will also be broadcast on NBC Sports Network with the following schedule:

Wednesday, January 22
Tour Down Under Stage 2, 4:30 p.m. EST, NBCSN

Thursday, January 23
Tour Down Under Stage 3, 4:30 p.m. EST, NBCSN

Friday, January 24
Tour Down Under Stage 4, 4:30 p.m. EST, NBCSN

Saturday, January 25
Tour Down Under Stage 5, 2 a.m. EST, NBCSN

Sunday, January 26
Tour Down Under Stage 6, 11 p.m. EST, NBCSN

Sunday, February 9
Tour Down Under Highlight Show, 10 p.m. EST, NBCSN Stage 2

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The second official stage of the race kicks off in Prospect, Australia on Wednesday at 11 a.m. CDT (7:30 p.m. EST). The stage will end in Stirling and is estimated to finish at around 2:57 p.m. CDT (11:27 p.m. EST).

Stage 2 starts with a rolling route that begins an upward climb at about the 20-kilometer mark, according to Sky Sports. Following the steep climb, the route to the finish line is completely flat for nearly three kilometers. The huge change in route gives the riders an easier path to the finish line after a tough terrain.

Thomas Foods Stage 3

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The third stage of the race runs from Norwood to Campbelltown, beginning at the same time as the second stage with an approximate finish time around 2:56 p.m. CDT (11:26 p.m. EST).

In Stage 3, the riders will immediately begin an accent up over the first 10 kilometers. Much like the second stage, the third will move up and down after the initial climb, with a corkscrew hill near the finish. Following the difficult hill, the route moves downward to the finish line in Campbelltown.

Bupa Stage 4

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Stage 4 will take the riders from Unley to Victor Harbor, beginning a little later than the other two three stages at 11:30 a.m. CDT (8 p.m. EST) and finishing at an estimated time of around 3:25 p.m. CDT (11:55 p.m. EST).

During the fourth stage, riders will be able to sprint through Adelaide Road in Echunga and Inman Valley Road in Yankalilla. Much like the third stage, the opening of the route starts with an upward rise, but this one ends at 500 meters rather than 400 on Stage 3.

With the route beginning to roll after that point, the riders will have several opportunities to sprint after the tough start before arriving at the coast on Victor Harbor.

Pure Blonde Stage 5

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The penultimate stage of the race begins in McLaren Vale and runs through Willunga Hill. The stage will begin at 11:10 a.m. CDT (7:40 p.m. EST) and finish at approximately 3:02 p.m. CDT (11:32 p.m. EST).

Though it's not a foregone conclusion, the winner of the fifth stage of the race will have a big say in who ultimately takes home the title. The winner of this stage will earn a 10-second bonus and be in prime position at the start of the sixth stage.

The course will take riders through a sequence of three different laps around a mostly flat course before embarking on two laps of Willunga Hill. The riders will likely be looking to gain an advantage the first time on Willunga Hill, but the final rise up the hill could get aggressive with each looking to gain an advantage.

Be Safe Be Seen MAC Stage 6

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With the end in sight, the final stage of the tour begins and ends in Adelaide with 18 laps beginning at 12:30 p.m. CDT (9 p.m. EST) and ends at approximately 2:30 p.m. CDT (11 p.m. EST).

The 18 laps will be a race to the finish for sprinters that have been able to make it through the difficult hills of the first five stages. The sprints will take place on laps six, 12 and 18.

Sharp turns throughout the mostly level route will make for a difficult race to the finish, with a likely turbulent close to the tour. For riders who accumulated time bonuses throughout the first five stages, they could come into play at the end of the race.

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