Some of those teams are doing the Cadel Evans race and the Herald Sun Tour because they're in Australia for the TDU, so they may as well get some more race days in the good weather while they can. If they didn't have to do the TDU, some of them might not do any of the races, but the other Australian race organizers have - quite rightly - seized the opportunity to create a mini-season that attracts teams to do a bit more racing while they're down there; if it were just for those races, a lot of WT teams mightn't bother (especially jetting halfway around the world for a one-day race without the history as opposed to the 2010 Worlds, since obviously the Worlds are a big thing), but if you have to send your resources to Australia for the TDU it makes sense to make the most of it. The same goes for the US stage races in August clustering together; putting the flyaway races together makes sense.nhowson said:If you pushed me I would say it should be 2.HC, but I couldn't give less of a **** about race ratings. I'd prefer to watch Le Samyn over Vattenfall. Tro Bro Leon over Scheldeprijs, Roma Maxima over Quebec.
You haven't addressed my point about the difference between boring and big names. Have you seen the teams doing the Cadel Evans race and even the Herald Sun Tour these days? If they are doing them they would do the Tour Down Under, at least Orica would, don't exaggerate.
It comes down to what you want from a race. Anybody who wants a genuine climbing challenge in January goes to San Luís. But a lot of riders don't want that at that point in their preparations so the TDU is better for them.
The TDU's problem for many people for many years was that the route was uninspired; they didn't even need to toughen the race, just do a better job of using the few obstacles they included. Maybe a short TT on the final day instead of an 80km crit. I have had disagreements on the subject before, but I honestly don't believe an 80km crit belongs in the World Tour. It's not like the end of the TDF/Vuelta parades where teams need to congratulate themselves for making it to the end. Hell, the TDU would be an ideal kind of race to trial a skiing-style pursuit format over a short stage, since the gaps on GC tend to be comparatively small, however the UCI frown on split-stages in WT races. The course is, however, improving, with the move to a HTF on Willunga Hill and a couple of additional hills close to finishes, an extra lap of the Stirling circuit and so on. The race hasn't become a really difficult race but it has made it more competitive and, while it's clear big guns don't really have too much of a reason to care except for the Aussies, it does at least make it a lot more interesting to pay attention than in the days of Allan Davis winning the GC.