The chaos, cost, and countless cases of a WorldTour road trip

Here's what's involved in shipping the men's and women's pelotons from Tour Down Under to Cadel's Race.

Ronan Mc Laughlin
by Ronan Mc Laughlin 22.01.2024 Photography by
Ronan Mc Laughlin
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OK, everybody out. That’s effectively the message that rang out across the Tour Down Under team paddock as Stevie Williams crossed the line to secure overall victory in the 2024 WorldTour opener. 

As one Australian WorldTour race ends, every women’s and men’s team has approximately three hours to get every piece of kit packed up and on one of three semi-trailer trucks headed for Geelong and Torquay, for the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. 

Escape Collective wandered the paddock to answer the question of how 36 teams, 236 riders, and a minimum of 500 bikes relocate 750 km down the road to Geelong overnight.

The answer is a mix of trucks, planes, and automobiles. Team staff immediately set about packing bike bags, cases, and filling boxes with all manner of equipment, kit, and spares before loading them into the trucks.

The key thing to remember is that each staff member has been “on the clock” for a good two weeks already, and with the Tour Down Under wrapping up, said staff members are looking forward to clocking off for the night and perhaps sampling some of South Australia’s speciality grape juice.

As such, the truck loading starts very organised. The women’s bikes go into the first truck for delivery to their hotel – hard cases and cardboard boxes first, followed by soft cases and bike bags on top, which can often descend into madness very quickly.

But this isn’t the first time the teams have made this trip, and Cadel’s Race has three logistics staff on hand to ensure the process goes smoothly. The whole operation runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars according to Jordan O’Neil and Ebony Flanagan of O2 Events.

Hundreds of thousands may seem surprising at first, but it’s not difficult to imagine how the costs quickly stack up. First there’s those trucks. While by no means the most expensive element of the operation, they do need to be hired and driven 750 km across the country.

The drivers will drive through the night to deliver all the team kit to the three hotels that will house the teams for the next week. Hotel rooms aren’t cheap these days, and accommodating 500 people or more will cost a pretty penny.

But there’s also the question of how those people get to Geelong. The answer is another huge chunk of expenditure in the shape of a plane, or more specifically three planes. Teams and riders all fly across, with one of the planes being specially chartered for the teams. I’ve never chartered a plane, but a Google search tells me “the cost of renting a Boeing 777 private jet can range from $20,000 to $70,000 per hour,” and the flight is just over one hour.

There’s also the cost of transporting all the team riders and staff from the Adelaide Hilton Hotel to Adelaide airport, and the same again on the other side. Two coaches for the women’s teams and four coaches for the men’s will cover that job and again come at a cost.

Long story short, it’s a huge operation and it all begins with packing everything up. Here’s a gallery of said clean up operation.

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