High temperatures and lashing winds have caused the organizers of the Santos Tour Down Under to shorten the first two stages after a “code red” alert was issued across South Australia.

Upon consulting with rider representative Adam Hansen and Mitchelton-Scott sports director Matt White, organizers cut Stage 1’s 3.4-km finishing circuit in Port Adelaide and 26.9-km from Stage 2’s jaunt between Norwood and Angaston, although the uphill finish is intact.

The Santos Women’s Tour Down Under was raced in very hot, windy conditions. Amanda Spratt took the top honours for Mitchelton-Scott for the third year in a row, while Canadian Alison Jackson placed fifth. For the first time in four editions, it was an all-Australian final podium.

Thankfully, the winds weren’t howling in a particular section of South Australia when the aftermarket battery of a man’s electric Pinarello burst into flames on Adelaide’s Corkscrew Hill. Seventy-nine-year-old Gerry Ryan escaped with minor burns from his bike blaze and the grass fire didn’t spread.

The six stage Santos Tour Down Under ends on Willunga Hill this year, and fans are wondering if Trek-Segafredo signing Richie Porte win atop the hill for the sixth consecutive time. Porte isn’t the only rider racing with a new team in 2019: Caleb Ewan already won two of the Bay City Crits and Sunday’s Down Under Classic with Lotto-Soudal, 2015 champion Rohan Dennis will wear a Bahrain-Merida kit and reigning Amstel Gold champion Michael Valgren lines up for Dimension Data. CCC Team will contest its first race as a WorldTour team.

Richie Porte, reigning champ Daryl Impey (South Africa/Mitchelton-Scott), Sky’s Dutchman Wout Poels, Dennis, George Bennett (New Zealand/Lotto-Visma) and Canadian Michael Woods are favourites to wear the ochre jersey at the top of Willunga Hill on Sunday.

Woods resplendent in EF Education First’s groovy new duds.

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