June 17, 2013

Tour of Australia: stage 13

stage13-2
It’s less than two weeks until the 100th edition of the Tour de France begins, which 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 and this is stage 11.

Route: Corryong to Perisher Valley
Distance: 163km
Climbing: 3,980m

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

If this isn’t the hardest stage of the Tour of Australia then it’s very close. With four tough climbs — two of them hors categorie — and nearly 4,000m of climbing to contend with it’s a day that should be decisive in the battle for the general classification.

After finishing the previous day’s stage in the New South Wales border town of Albury the riders duck back over the Victorian border to begin stage 13 in Corryong. Heading east out of Corryong it’s only 14km before the Tour is back on the roads of New South Wales and only 28km before the stage’s first intermediate sprint point is contested in Khancoban.

The day’s first climb — a 1st category climb that rises at 4.7% for 14.6km — comes just a handful kilometres out of Khancoban, taking the riders south into the Koscuisko National Park. From the summit of that first stunning climb it’s most of 10km downhill before a few kilometres of rollers and the start of the day’s second climb at the 61km mark.

This second rise, a 3rd category, 5km-long rise at 6% tops out after 67km of racing before another flowing descent past Tom Groggin. At the 80km mark the road swings around to the left (east) and the riders face the first of two hors categorie climbs on the stage: the 17.8km rise at 6% to Dead Horse Gap. It’s another wonderfully scenic Alpine Way climb with a whole bunch of switchbacks, great views and native roadside flora to keep the viewers at home glued to their TV.

stage13

From the top of that climb, after 97km, the riders will enjoy a flowing 45km descent that’s very gradual and that takes them past the Thredbo ski resort after 100km and through an intermediate sprint point in Jindabyne after 135km. Heading north out of Jindabyne and past the lake bearing the same name, the riders re-enter the Koscuisko National Park and begin the final hors categorie climb to the end of the stage.

It’s 23.2km at 3.5% from the Thredbo River to the stage’s end at the Perisher ski resort and there are a couple of descents and steep sections to contend with along the way.

After the sprinter-friendly stage the day before this is a stage for the GC contenders, the climbers and the breakaway riders. You could imagine a handful of riders getting away early in the stage in search of the KOM points on offer on the first three climbs. But the long descent to Jindabyne would be the perfect opportunity for the bunch (or what’s left of it) to work together to reel in a break.

It could be very interesting to see a breakaway brought back into the fold in Jindabyne leaving the GC contenders to battle it out on the final climb ahead of the final week of racing. It’s a stage that’s perfect for TV audiences with a wealth of winding alpine roads, beautiful views and Australia’s highest mountain, Mt. Kosciusko, all featuring.

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Stay posted for stage 14 of the Tour of Australia, coming tomorrow.

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8 Comments

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  1. AG / Jun 21 2013

    That long climb up to Perisher is brutal. A seemingly endless climb with the odd false flat and often high, cold winds at the top.

    Excellent.

  2. Wayne / Jun 17 2013

    Love it. Just love it. Getting a divorce so I can ride them all

  3. Robert Merkel / Jun 17 2013

    Honestly, I think this might be a stage for the breakaway riders – the last climb isn’t steep enough to shed any GC contender, but the stage is obviously far too hard for sprinters (though, Sagan in the mood to win the green jersey, maybe).

  4. Ev / Jun 17 2013

    You nailed this stage. Absolutely perfect route with possibly the two best climbs in NSW. Love it

  5. Goat / Jun 17 2013

    Captivating stuff. Can’t wait for the next instalment.

  6. David / Jun 17 2013

    The stage is all about the NSW Snow resorts and the Snowy Mountains Scheme. We were tempted to go all the way to Mt Kosciuszko on the dirt service road as far as Rawsons Pass.

    We also considered going from Tumburumba to Cabrumurra to Dead Horse gap – for 200km of riding, there is 5,050m verticle:
    http://goo.gl/maps/8Qr8v
    Possibly the hardest possible 200km to ride in the country.

  7. Josh / Jun 17 2013

    I doubt the tour can be won here but it can certainly be lost. It’s not enough to decide the top three but enough to break some; with the fatigue seeping in, and magnified by the sheer length of those climbs, you can just imagine that this is the stage where some GC contender has an off day and loses minutes.

    This may also be the stage where a couple of pure sprinters throw in the towel.

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