June 25, 2013

Tour of Australia: stage 20

stage20-2
It’s less than a week until the 100th edition of the Tour de France begins and David Blom and I have been 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. Over the past three weeks we’ve been revealing one stage per day and here is the final stage.

Route: Bondi Beach to Sydney Opera House
Distance: 93km
Climbing: 800m

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

And so, after three weeks of tough racing, beautiful climbs and amazing scenery the Tour of Australia comes to a close. The general classification would have been decided in the previous few days leaving the final stage as a lap of honour for the winner. The KOM classification would also have been decided, but with an intermediate sprint and a flat finish to contest, the battle for the points jersey would still be live on the short final stage.

The stage begins alongside one of Australia’s most iconic stretches of sand: Bondi Beach. Heading west the riders pass the suburbs of Woollahra, Ultimo and Camperdown before heading north after 20km, just to the east of Sydney’s Olympic Park.

Thus far the stage has been largely flat but after crossing the Parramatta River and heading north east, there’ll be a number of short climbs and descents for the riders to deal with. Passing through St Ives the peloton follows Mona Vale Road through Terrey Hills and Ingleside before reaching Sydney’s northern beaches.

Heading south through the beachside suburbs of Collaroy, Dee Why and Freshwater the riders will ready themselves for the final intermediate sprint of the Tour of Australia in the famous seaside suburb of Manly. The bunch then turns inland again passing through Fairlight and Seaforth before crossing the bay at The Spit after 75km.

Heading south west through Cremorne and Neutral Bay the rides join the Warringah Freeway in Kirribilli before riding over Australia’s most famous bridge: the Sydney Harbour Bridge. By the time the riders have crossed the bridge there’s less than 10km left in the stage and you could expect the sprinters’ teams to be directing proceedings at the front.

stage20

Coming off the bridge the riders head east through Circular Quay before heading south on Macquarie Street. This final section of the course is quite technical, almost like a city centre criterium, and riders who want to contest the final sprint will need to be well positioned as they come off the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

After 87km the riders head north east through the famous Domain Park, continuing through the Royal Botanic Gardens before a sharp waterside right-hand hairpin at the 88km mark. Positioning on this corner will be crucial.

The riders then retrace their steps back through the gardens and Domain Park before doing a lap of Sandringham Gardens. Again, with tight corners to contend with positioning will be key for those that want to contest the final sprint.

The riders finish their lap of Sandringham Gardens after 91km and from there it’s a 1.5km dead straight drag all the way up Macquarie Street to the finish in front of the iconic Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Harbour Bridge looming large overhead. A few alterations to existing road furniture might be needed to make this final sprint a reality but it would certainly make for a picturesque and memorable finish to three tough weeks of racing.

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Stay posted for a Tour of Australia review piece, coming soon.

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12 Comments

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  1. Peter M / Sep 5 2013

    Great idea . Logistics very difficult. But if you tweaked it a bit and had the start and finish of each stage near a rail siding. The whole peleton and support could spend each night on a specially built train. No hotels except where makes more sense. Sleeper cars and buffet. Easy as.

  2. Peter / Jul 23 2013

    Wow! I don’t check the site for a couple of months, come back and find this gem!…Like some of the others have said, this has to happen!
    Well done.

  3. Robert Merkel / Jun 26 2013

    Thanks for an entertaining Tour of Australia!

    It’s interesting to consider whether we have enough roads to do this year after year. The mountain stages might have a bit of sameness to them after a while.

    • David / Jun 27 2013

      Robert,

      We have done a bit of research into this, and we feel that there are plenty of different ways to do this. We didn’t touch any of Queensland or Tasmania and there are several mountain ranges there available for climbing. It’s a bit harder around Western Australia, but there are a few low mountains that we could do repeats on or we could put down some bitumen around the Kimberley Ranges :)
      Likewise the Northern Territory is sparse for climbs on sealed roads.

      As for Victoria, NSW and SA, there are many more climbs that we can pull out of the woodwork…

  4. Another Ben / Jun 26 2013

    Matt & Dave, I was forwarded a link to your blog from some friends specifically to read about your Tour of Australia. What a fantastic job you guys have done! I’ve been back here every day since the beginning to check out the next stage and I’m sad now that its all come to an end! Your final stage around Sydney is unreal and I’ll probably grab the bike and go for a pedal when the weather picks up and see the route for real.

    Well done and thankyou!

    • Matt / Jun 26 2013

      Thanks Ben! Much appreciated! Just be careful with that Sydney stage — some of the roads are freeways and other busy roads that would need to be closed in order to be safe for cyclists. Just scope it out before you go …

  5. Ben / Jun 25 2013

    Excellent work over the past few weeks guys.

    I fully expect this has already been presented to Tracey Gaudry for immediate inclusion in the World Tour as soon as she becomes UCI president in September.

    We already have the Australian Open tennis grand slam and the Melbourne F1 Grand Prix, we should also have an Australian Grand Tour.

    Please make this happen.

    B

    • Matt / Jun 25 2013

      Thanks very much Ben! Appreciate that. :) And yep, we might as well flick an email to Tracey, eh? Can’t hurt! 😉

  6. Andrew / Jun 25 2013

    Well done Matt and David, I too have enjoyed reading each stage.

  7. David_H / Jun 25 2013

    Thanks for doing this Matt and Dave, it has been fun following your course over the last few weeks.
    About the only thing I can say that I thought I would see, but didn’t was a flat time trial in the second week – I thought you might have done one around Melbourne as you went past. But overall it would be a very challenging event to do; and certainly worthy of being a Grand Tour. It has given me ideas on some climbs I need to go and check out :)

  8. Andy Abbott / Jun 25 2013

    Thanks for a wonderful tour guys! Extremely well thought through with some magnificent rides. Most certainly worthy of ‘Grand Tour’ status in my opinion.

  9. David / Jun 25 2013

    One more “Big thing” The rather appropriate Big Bicycle in Chullora will be visited by the chopper: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Chullora_Recycling_Centre.JPG

    I hope all have enjoyed the tour. It has been a fun, but exhausting exercise in bring it all to you.

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