June 3, 2013

Tour of Australia: prologue

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The Giro d’Italia is finished for another year and it’s more than three weeks until the Tour de France begins on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. While we wait for Le Tour to begin, it got David Blom and I thinking: what if there was a three-week Grand Tour in Australia? Where would it be held? Which climbs would it take in? Where would it finish?

There are many reasons why a three-week Grand Tour simply wouldn’t happen in Australia but there’s no harm in imagining, right? After all, there are four Grand Slams in tennis, why not four Grand Tours in road cycling?

We’ve gone through and mapped out what we think would make for a fascinating and undoubtedly challenging route for an Australian Grand Tour. We’ve tried to be as realistic as possible with our route, trying to find a mix of flatter stages, medium mountain stages, summit finishes, time trials and so on. We’ve also tried to ensure that the total length of the Tour is similar to that of the existing Grand Tours.

As mentioned, there are any number of variations and stage combinations you could go with in Australia and what we’ve presented is just one option. This particular Tour has been designed to head in a specific direction but subsequent years could be in the opposite direction or take in a different part of the country entirely. We won’t say any more than that, for fear of spoiling what’s to come.

We envisage this Tour taking part somewhere in the latter part of the year, September or October perhaps, when the weather is warming up but isn’t scorching hot like it is in January for the Tour Down Under.

We’ll be revealing one stage per day over the next three weeks in the lead up to the Tour de France but before we reveal the first stage, I need to say a huge thank you to David Blom for his tireless efforts in putting this route together. As you’ll see in the coming weeks, a lot of thought and planning has gone into this project and I’m very grateful to David for his efforts.

So without further ado, here’s the opening stage of the Tour of Australia: a prologue time trial around the streets of North Adelaide.

Tour of Australia: prologue

Route: Loop around the North Adelaide CBD
Distance: 9km
Climbing: 29 metres

Click here to see the stage map and profile on Ride with GPS.

Adelaide is home to Australia’s only current WorldTour event, the Tour Down Under, so what better place to start our Grand Tour than the South Australian capital? On day 1 of the Tour the riders tackle a 9km prologue individual time trial around the North Adelaide CBD.

Starting inside the majestic Adelaide Oval, the stage takes riders out onto War Memorial Drive alongside the River Torrens before taking in an anti-clockwise loop that includes Robe Terrace and Fitzroy Terrace. The riders are then reunited with the River Torrens before heading back inside the Adelaide Oval to finish their effort in front of a big crowd.

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The Adelaide Oval is best known as a venue for test cricket but the stadium actually has a cycling history as well, with track events held there in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Held on a Saturday, this prologue stage would hopefully attract a large crowd and kick off the Tour in style. And given it’s on a Saturday, the prologue could be integrated into a bigger cycling festival weekend with ride options for everyone from kids through to serious amateurs.

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We hope you enjoy our Tour of Australia route over the coming three weeks. Be sure to check back tomorrow for details of the first mass start stage as the riders head out of Adelaide. In the meantime, we’d be happy to hear you thoughts about the prologue and the Tour of Australia concept more generally, so please feel free to leave comments below.

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22 Comments

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  1. Paul / Nov 13 2013

    Loved the whole Tour concept and your various stages.
    But, just imagine a prologue around Uluru. Transfers and accommodation might be a bit painful though.

    • David / Jan 28 2014

      We did imagine it and consider it. Further editions might yet come to fruition :)

  2. Paul / Oct 18 2013

    What a novel concept!
    A nice start… pity I only just found these posts!
    I might try this loop on the weekend and then on to Stage 1

  3. ryan / Sep 15 2013

    hey, im going to give it a go working on a second version of this. and try to hit some places that may have been missed in this one. will keep posted :)

    • David / Sep 24 2013

      Go for it – there are heaps to choose from. NT, WA, Qld, Tas and New Zealand would appreciate it :)

      There are plenty of roads in SA, Vic the ACT and NSW that we didn’t touch. It just goes to show just how big Australia is…

      • Ryan / Oct 22 2013

        Working very slowly on this idea, haha you guys put a lot of effort into this and i’m realising how difficult it is. But I’m getting there slowly.

        I would compare my route to something like the 09 giro.

        Don’t worry I’ve got Mt Wellington on either the second or last day.

  4. Marcus Eldridge / Jun 12 2013

    Fantastic idea!

  5. Robert Merkel / Jun 3 2013

    Tried a similar but less ambitious exercise myself – putting together a course for a weeklong stage race around Victoria with a focus on the big climbs (unlike the Hun Tour in recent years).

    It’s an interesting challenge, particularly putting together a good queen stage. While Victoria has plenty of suitable finishing climbs, putting together a raceable route that strings multiple big climbs together other than the 3 Peaks route is difficult.

    Interested to see what you guys come up with.

  6. Phil / Jun 3 2013

    Such a Big tour should showcase Australia’s Big attractions, such as the Pineapple, Prawn, Sheep, Guitar and whatever other big stuff we have!

    Seriously, great concept and will be interesting to watch the reveal. Chapeau!

  7. Ian / Jun 3 2013

    Great idea. Thanks for putting this together.

  8. Mark Harmes / Jun 3 2013

    This is a wonderful idea-I will be waiting for each stage with the same anticipation that I do with the TDF. Having just returned from France I don’t think OZ can meet the heights of the Pyrennees [20kms up].
    Having said that OZ has it’s own unique challenges, wind -ride S.A to W.A, 48c temperature – country VIC, torrential rain-FNQ and NT not to mention the wild life.
    This tour should show case Australia as the TDF dose for France.
    The name ? working title circum austaus.
    Love to see the great ocean road on this list of stages.

  9. Ipib / Jun 3 2013

    Looking forward to seeing the route and profile of the nullabore plains stage

  10. Powderhound / Jun 3 2013

    This is great work – and a timely count down to the Tour to get us thru work every morning!
    Can’t wait to see what the Queen stage holds for us…. Surely not 3 peaks????
    Is there a prize for the first person to complete the event?
    I think I might try and get out and finish some of these stages.
    BTW – Do we need another word instead of Tour for here in Australia? That’s French afterall, and we have the Giro and Vuelta. Maybe the Bloody Big Ride Round Australia.

  11. Nick O / Jun 3 2013

    St Kilda Rd in Melbourne for a Champs Elyeese style final?

    Spectating on both sides of the road and up the middle as well – that way they could cover the tram tracks … it’s one thing that nearly everyone who rides in Melbourne has capsized on tram tracks once or twice, we’d need to cover them up for our international visitors

    Don’t forget the Arts Centre spire that pretends to be the Tour Eiffel!

  12. GlennR / Jun 3 2013

    Agree that a Mt Wellington mountaintop finish has to be included. Also a crossing of the harbour bridge with a finish at an iconic beach, Beach rd ITT, Buninyong, a Yarra Valley winery to Mt Baw Baw, the Great Ocean road, and the queen stage of Bright to Falls Creek village via Hotham.

  13. Dan / Jun 3 2013

    I’m sure many of us have toyed with the idea in our heads… what if, what if… in the past. Great to see what you come up with and how it compares with my own imaginings.

  14. Josh / Jun 3 2013

    The Adelaide Oval actually used to be a velodrome:
    http://www.salife7.com.au/adelaide/places/historical/adelaide-city-secrets

    Does the redevelopment currently going on cater for a bicycle race? I’d heard it’d been redesigned as essentially a footy stadium with occasional cricket match capability, which doesn’t sound terribly promising.

    • David / Jun 3 2013

      There has to be entrance/exit points for the heavy roller, mowers, etc. Cars must be able to come onto the ground for motorcades.

      I know with the MCG come Melbourne Marathon day, there is no problem going through a tunnel and on to the ground :)

  15. David Blom / Jun 3 2013

    This route was one of several route options that were considered. I would be interested to see what other people come up with. The route chosen was designed to be logistically easy (have to start or finish in locations big enough to cater for the influx of people) with minimal transfers. Route deisgn also has a brief to include the best scenery, tourist attractions and provide a narrative about history, stock routes and try to include famous cyclists hometowns. A cycling race is a major tourism brochure, highways, bypasses, bridges, etc, as many of the best parts of a country are covered. I know that there will be places that we won’t visit with this route that you will believe that we simply should have included, but in a 3 week tour, you still can’t get to everywhere. However, there is always the possibility of going to other locations in subsequent editions. You also (as much as we would love it too) can’t have 21 Mountain stages. I hope the tour given here as an example, provides a balanced competition for all types of riders, giving sprinters, breakaway specialists, climbers, descenders and time triallers, their opportunity to shine.

  16. Andy / Jun 3 2013

    Great concept! Looking forward to seeing where it’s headed..!

  17. Daniel Wood / Jun 3 2013

    I will be disappointed if there is not a mountain top finish at Mt Wellington Matt 😉

    • Matt / Jun 3 2013

      Stay posted mate. 😉

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