Tour Down Under wants big name for 25th birthday race

One of road cycling's biggest names is the lure for Tour Down Under boss Stuart O'Grady to help celebrate the event's 25th birthday.

The Tour race director, who won the first edition in 1999, said at Monday's route reveal in Adelaide that he is targeting a top rider to headline the January 18-26 milestone race.

The women's Santos Tour will be run from January 17-19.

The South Australian government, which owns the event, is trying to lure one of Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia), Jonas Vingegaard (Denmark), Remco Evenepoel (Belgium), Primoz Roglic (Slovenia), Wout van Aert (Belgium) or Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands).

That group dominates road cycling - Pogacar is the favourite for the Tour de France from June 29 ahead of Vingegaard, the two-time defending champion and Roglic is also a top contender.

Tadej Pogacar.
Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar celebrates his recent Giro D'Italia success. (AP PHOTO)

Evenepoel won the world road championship in Wollongong two years ago, while van Aert and van der Poel are also all-time greats of the one-day classic races.

O'Grady leaves for Europe on Tuesday morning and when asked about his main goal there, he said: "sign one of the biggest names in the world of cycling.

"We've been working obviously on that big name, which has been a while in the works.

"Once we get through the Tour de France and the Paris Olympics road race is complete, we should get an answer pretty quickly after that.

"So hopefully they do really well."

The Adelaide Tour has a history of attracting major international names.

Its biggest coup - and also ultimately by far the most controversial - was enticing Lance Armstrong to start his 2009 comeback in Adelaide.

The American retired again after racing at the 2011 edition.

A few days before the 2013 Tour Down Under started, Armstrong confessed to Oprah Winfrey in a TV interview that he had doped.

Lance Armstrong.
Lance Armstrong on the bike for Radio Shack USA during the 2011 Tour Down Under. (Ben Macmahon/AAP PHOTOS)

The race has also attracted Peter Sagan, Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and Julian Alaphilippe among its top overseas riders.

German Erik Zabel, then one of the world's top sprinters, won two stages in the inaugural 1999 race.

The men's race next January will return to its roots, using the same city circuits that bookended the 1999 course.

"I really couldn't see it any other way, than having a big celebration, right in the heart of our beautiful city," O'Grady said of the last stage.

"Paris has the Champs Elysees, Adelaide has King William (St) - same same."

The men's race will also feature a new finishing climb at Pound Rd in the Adelaide Hills, which O'Grady rates as tough as the iconic Willunga Hill ascent south of the city.