June 6, 2013

Tour of Australia: stage 3

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With the Giro d’Italia now finished and the Tour de France just around the corner, 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 the Tour de France. This is stage 3.

Route: Horsham to Mt. William
Distance: 159km
Climbing: 1,650m

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

On stage 3 of the Tour of Australia the riders get their first taste of the bigger mountains and their first summit finish. The stage starts off in a friendly enough manner, heading south west out of Horsham on pancake flat roads before looping back around to the east on Jallumba-Mockinya Road.

After rejoining the Henty Highway the riders head south before taking a left onto Brimpaen-Laharum Road and heading through the stage’s only intermediate sprint point after 89km. At the Northern Grampians Road the riders take a right-hand turn and ready themselves for the 12km-long, 1st category climb into the hills of the Grampians.

From the KOM point 128km into the stage the riders head along Silverband Road which features a stunning one-lane descent out to the Grampians Road. After 147km of riding the peloton will turn left and begin the tough ascent of Mt. William: the first hors categorie climb of the Tour and a brutal way to end the stage.

stage 3

With a flat start to the stage expect the sprinters to come out in search of the intermediate sprint points before dropping back as soon as the road goes up. The first climb, while not particularly steep, will almost certainly split the bunch leaving only a select bunch of riders to battle it out when they reach the slopes of Mt. William.

The final climb, particularly the last section to the summit, will suit the pure climbers, with a final section that averages 10%+ and that has a maximum gradient well in excess of 20%. In all, it’s 11.5km to the summit at 7.5% but that average gradient doesn’t give you a sense of just how hard the final 2km really are.

For spectators watching the stage at home on TV there will be no shortage of amazing vision as the riders head through the Grampians National Park with sweeping vistas, narrow fern-surrounded roads and native bush aplenty. And with many great rides, walks, hikes, waterfalls and lookouts to check out, it’s not hard to imagine a fair crowd descending on the Grampians for this Tuesday stage and staying for a couple days.

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Stay posted for stage 4 of the Tour of Australia, coming tomorrow.

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12 Comments

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  1. Anto / Jun 6 2013

    Your stage map shows the route finishing at the Mt William carpark, not the final 2 km to the transmision towers/summit?

  2. Phil / Jun 6 2013

    Great description of the stage.

    I too wonder about hitting the hills too early. Might discourage the sprinters from coming to Oz for this tour. Plenty of flat stuff available for a few more stages b4 the road goes up.

    • Matt / Jun 6 2013

      Possibly, but there are still plenty of stage to go! 😉

    • David / Jun 6 2013

      I think it is a good idea to have a “medium” mountain stage like this whilst the riders legs are still fresh. I don’t think any time gaps generated here will be insurmountable. It’s mostly the last 2km that will create the time gaps. Whilst riders will probably finish the stage in ones and twos, the GC contenders are likely to be all within 20 to 30 seconds of each other at most. There will also be plenty more stages for the sprinters to come. Depending on whether or not we have time bonuses, we could have had 3 changes to the leaders jersey already…

  3. Marcus / Jun 6 2013

    Bit early in a tour to have such a selective finish?

    • Matt / Jun 6 2013

      Just makes it more interesting. Would a GC contender chance his arm so early in the race to get the overall lead? Or would they leave it for a breakaway?

  4. Shane Miller / Jun 6 2013

    If Mark O’Brien and Sammy Witmitz are not frothing that ToA goes through Noradjuha and around the back of Nati, nothing will excite them. This is their stomping ground. Team Raleigh need a wildcard entry!

  5. Andy / Jun 6 2013

    The top of Mt William doesn’t provide a lot of space for antlerman to run alongside the climbers!

    • Matt / Jun 6 2013

      Sure it does! There’ll only be a handful of riders at a time up that steep stuff so plenty of room for crazy spectators! 😉 There’ll be no cars allowed on the mountain though as there’s very little room. The event village will be set up in the carpark and even then it will have to be slimmed down. The finish line will be about 20m before the transmission tower gates, to allow some room at the top for journos, team staff etc.

  6. David / Jun 6 2013

    This stage is full of amazing natural scenery. Some of the highlights will include:
    Mackenzie Falls: http://www.visithallsgap.com.au/walks/mackenzie_falls.jpg
    Silverband Falls: http://www.visithallsgap.com.au/walks/silverband_falls.jpg
    Boroka Lookout: http://www.visithallsgap.com.au/images/boroka_lookout.jpg
    Reeds Lookout: https://ssl.panoramio.com/photo/87265813
    The Pinnacle: http://www.visithallsgap.com.au/images/the_pinnacle800.jpg
    and of course the views from the Mt William Summit:
    http://www.visithallsgap.com.au/walks/mt_william.jpg

    By the way there is also a bike race going on that shall be very exciting too!

  7. Keir / Jun 6 2013

    I think I just did my other achilles thinking about this!

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