The Tour Down Under is the first WorldTour race of the season. Like all WorldTour races, the TdU has points up for grabs which the teams accumulate based on their riders’ winnings. These points count towards various things, but of strong importance is that these points dictate the the team car position in upcoming races. This matters most in the biggest of the Spring Classics – the Tour of Flanders, where there are narrow twisty cobbled roads, lots of crashes and mechancials and thousands of fans lining the roads. Having a support vehicle up at the front of the race is crucial if a team wants to be competitive in the likes of Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Remember Tom Boonan waiting in the Forest of Arenberg last year?
Of course World Tour races before the Classics also count towards the team vehicle order (such as Paris-Nice and Tirreno–Adriatico), but the Tour Down Under has always been regarded as the important one to get on top of early in the season. It was even more significant in previous years when points were calculated differently. It’s also worth nothing that Paris-Nice and Tirreno are better suited to climbers unlike the TdU and Flanders.
In land of Belgium, if you win one cobbled classic you’re a hero; If you win both, you’re a legend.
Here are the rules on the team car position:
2.3.017 Only one vehicle per team will be permitted to circulate at race level.
2.3.018 The order of team cars in the race will be determined as follows:
1. The cars of the teams represented at the team managers’ meeting referred to in article 1.2.087 in the order of the world classification of the starting riders as drawn up;
2. The cars of the teams represented at the meeting whose riders have not yet earned points in the world individual classification;
3. The cars of teams which failed to confirm their starting riders within the time limits set out in article 1.2.090;
4. The cars of teams not represented at the meeting.
In groups 2 to 4 the order is determined by drawing lots.
The car of a team covered by point 1 or 2, but which falls into the categories covered by points 3 or 4, will be placed in group 3 or 4 as appropriate.
And as per the Points scale – UCI WorldTour Ranking:
Art. 2.10.004: The team ranking is obtained by adding up the points obtained by the five best riders in the individual ranking. The ranking of teams in the event of a tie will be determined by the place of their best rider in the individual ranking.
BTW, if you want a 2012 UCI World Tour Google Calendar, you can find it here.