Speaking from the race HQ at the Hilton Hotel in the CBD of Adelaide, South Australia, O’Grady said he had been working for four years to gain the experience needed to manage the UCI event.
“Having ridden probably more bike races than anyone on the planet I hopefully can bring some new ideas and different strategies to keep it (the TDU) as the number one cycling event in this country,” the Olympic and Paris-Roubaix champion said.
“I have done the best over the last four years to try and learn everything I can from the other side of the fence.
“There is still a heck of a lot of things to learn. I haven’t run a big, international race before.”
O’Grady was the winner of the first Tour Down Under in 1999 and has raced in all but two of the South Australian tours since then. O’Grady also rode in the Tour de France 17 times between 1997 and 2013, winning two stages and finishing second in the points classification four times.
“I think obviously a big key to this event is the team, built around Mike and the SATC (South Australian Tourism Commission),” he said.
“That is one of the great things that puts this race on the level of the best events in the world.
“I’m sure they’re going to help in the areas where I don’t know every detail, but I’m a pretty quick learner and I have been around cycling for a long time. So hopefully those two factors will make it all work.”
Santos Tour Down Under organisers will also be hopeful that O’Grady’s extensive network of cyclists and team managers will help attract top cycling talent to Adelaide for future races.
O’Grady, 46, said he had spent the past three years hosting tours of the big European races which allowed him to maintain his contacts.
“I’m just really, you know, on the ground rubbing shoulders with my old team bosses, my old mates, and obviously the organizers,” he said.
“That’s opening up opportunities and obviously you’re staying connected to the peloton and keeping those relationships really strong to help bring that talent to Adelaide.”
O’Grady said he would use the upcoming 22nd Tour Down Under in January 2020 to shadow Mike Turtur to learn about running the race, but did have some ideas for new routes from the years he has spent riding in his home state.
“There’s plenty of climbs to choose from,” he said.
“We may not have big mountain tops to summit here, but the climbs in Adelaide and its surroundings are nasty enough in January to hurt and I certainly have a couple.”
The 2020 Santos Tour Down Under will run from 16-26 January in South Australia, with the women’s four-stage race beginning on 16 January and the first of the men’s six stages on 21 January. Both the men and women will race a criterium circuit in the Adelaide city centre on 19 January.Jump to next article