June 14, 2013

Tour of Australia: stage 10

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It’s only about two weeks until the Tour de France kicks off and it got David Blom and I thinking: what would an Australian Grand Tour look like?

We’ve put together a course for a three-week race that takes in some of the best roads in the country in an attempt to create cycling’s fourth Grand Tour: the Tour of Australia. We’re currently revealing one stage per day in the lead-up to Le Tour. This is stage 10.

Route: Bairnsdale to Omeo
Distance: 189km
Climbing: 2,200m

Click here to see the route on RideWithGPS, including the KOM and intermediate sprint points.

Stage 10 of the Tour of Australia starts in Bairnsdale in Victoria’s Gippsland region, and takes the riders up the Great Alpine Road into the foothills of the Victorian Alps before ending the stage in the rural community of Omeo. It’s not the longest or most challenging stage of the race, but with most of the day being gradually uphill, and with a couple of challenging climbs to contend with, this stage shouldn’t be underestimated.

The stage starts gently enough, following the mostly flat Princes Highway to the popular seaside holiday destination of Lakes Entrance where the riders will contest an intermediate sprint after 36km. Heading north east out of Lakes Entrance, the peloton heads to Nowa Nowa before turning west towards Bruthen.

At Bruthen the riders turn right and join the Great Alpine Road and, after about 11km, they begin the first categorised climb of the day: a 4km, 3rd category climb with an average gradient of around 5%. From the summit of the day’s first KOM competition there’s a welcome 7km descent.

There are no sustained climbs of note for the next 60km but with plenty of short rises, and a gradient that’s every so slightly uphill the riders will find this section of the course to be tough going. After passing through Ensay the riders will ready themselves for the intermediate sprint point in Swifts Creek after 158km before taking a left turn, away from the Great Alpine Road.

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It’s an uphill drag for much of the 31km remaining to Omeo including two categorised climbs: a nasty 2.1km-long, 3rd category climb that averages 9.7% and tops out at the 176km mark, and a 2km, 4th category climb at around 6%.

When the riders reach the top of this final climb there’s just 8km remaining in the stage and nearly 6km of it is downhill. This descent will deliver the riders right into Omeo but before they reach the finish line there’s one challenge remaining: a steep 600m uphill drag that touches 10% in a couple of places.

Of all the stages in the Tour of Australia so far, this is arguably the one most suited to a breakaway. The sprinters will have a hard time dragging themselves up the climbs — particularly the steep 2km rise about 12km from the finish — and so there’s likely to be little effort from the sprinters’ teams to drive the chase. And with the long climbs of the Victorian Alps looming the GC contenders will likely be looking to save their energy, particularly if the riders in the breakaway aren’t a threat to the GC.

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Stay posted for stage 11 of the Tour of Australia, coming tomorrow.

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3 Comments

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  1. David / Jun 14 2013

    A big highlight is the whole Tambo River and Region, the town of Bindi, and the amazing mountains. I love the look of the Tambo Golf Course: http://www.omeoregion.com.au/tambo-golf/index.htm

    Omeo to Dargo was a possibility. It is a stage that I would include at some point. http://goo.gl/maps/es7i2

    Of course we could follow the Stratford to Dargo route too. However, you can’t have 21 mountain stages and you can’t go everywhere…

  2. Robert Merkel / Jun 14 2013

    Interesting.

    The other route I thought you might try is taking the peloton through Dargo, up *that* climb, across 40 km of (reasonable) dirt to Hotham and then either have a summit finish at Hotham Heights or down the hill to Harrietville or even Bright. Bring your 25mm tyres.

    • Dave / Jun 14 2013

      I have been over “that” climb more times on a bike than I care to remember, I have also been over the top on the gravel road, if they did some work it would be ok to ride. A local did ride Bainsdale to Hotham via Dargo and back to Bainsdale via swifts creek he had a choice of bike and did it in a day on his 29er said rds were to bad to maintain speed even on the cx. What about a quick spin through Licola to Jamison over the dirt?

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