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Lance Armstrong race puts Australian wine regions in spotlight

Cycling legend Lance Armstrong helped expose five South Australian regions to a daily audience of more than 200 million people last week as viewers from around the world watched coverage of the Tour Down Under.

The race, which is the first event of the year on the International Union of Cyclists (ICU) Pro Tour calendar, attracted global television coverage which featured frequent scenes of vineyards.

The tour began with a Clare to Barossa Valley stage, traversed the Adelaide Hills on three days and passed through Langhorne Creek with the penultimate stage of Saturday covering McLaren Vale.

Organisers estimate that almost one million people lined the route.

Leading industry figures have welcomed the international coverage, saying that the cycling event was helping to recognise Australia’s wine regions.

‘One of the big criticisms of Australian wine is that it’s not wine from a place,’ said the chairman of the McLaren Vale Grape Wine and Tourism Association, Dudley Brown.

‘We’re now getting feedback from around the world from people who’ve seen the region.’

Shaw & Smith’s Michael Hill Smith said the event reaffirmed the face of Australia as a wine producer with very attractive wine regions.

Launched 12 years ago, the event gained ICU status last year when the US’s Lance Armstrong used it to start a comeback to cycling.

The six-day event is estimated to have generated up to $50 million in revenues for the state of South Australia.

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Written by Chris Snow in Adelaide

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