June 11, 2013

Tour of Australia: stage 8

stage8-2
With the Tour de France fast approaching, 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 and this is stage 8. Let us know what you think!

Route: Warburton to Mt. Baw Baw
Distance: 173km
Climbing: 3,310m

Click here to see the route on Ride With GPS, including the KOM and intermediate sprint points.

After the previous day’s summit finish atop Mt. Donna Buang the riders will likely have heavy legs as they take to the start of stage 8. And with the category 3 Mt. Little Joe climb starting in the opening kilometre of stage 8, there’s no time to ease into the day’s racing.From the starting town of Warburton the opening climb is roughly 5km in length with a handful of early KOM points on offer at the top. From there it’s down the technical descent towards Wesburn before the riders head south to Gladysdale then through the eastern foothills of the Dandenong Ranges to Gembrook.

This is the closest this year’s edition of the Tour of Australia gets to the famous and popular climbs of the Dandenongs, but with plenty more tough and memorable climbs to tackle, spectators won’t be disappointed.

The ride from Gladysdale south through Gembrook and out to Nar Nar Goon is a very lumpy affair with several (uncategorised) climbs and several descents to contend with. Once at Nar Nar Goon, after 62km of racing, the riders head east along the only flat section of the stage. There’s an intermediate sprint point in the town of Longwarry after 80km before the road heads north east towards Neerim South via more lumpy terrain.

Some 114km into the stage, just south of Noojee, the stage begins to follow the same route as the Baw Baw Classic, a very challenging road race held by the Warragul Cycling Club every year. In the tiny town of Noojee the riders will come across the second and final intermediate sprint point of the stage. There’s virtually no flat road to speak of in the remaining 46km or so from Noojee to the end of the stage.

stage8

Just out of Noojee the peloton will come face to face with the always-challenging Vesper Hill climb. It’s a second category climb 4.6km long with valuable KOM points on offer at the summit. The average gradient of the climb is “only” 7.6% but with a second half that hovers around the 10% mark this climb is sure to make a mess of the peloton, just as it does in the Baw Baw Classic.

From the top of Vesper the riders will tackle a fast descent before riding through one of the most picturesque roads in Victoria on the approach to Mt. Baw Baw. But there’ll be little time for the riders to appreciate their surrounds as the pace will well and truly be on and with a string of climbs and descents to deal with there’s no time to sit in the bunch and take it easy.

At the base of the final climb, Mt. Baw Baw, we’d expect only a few dozen riders to still be in contention. The first 6km or so of the climb shouldn’t prove too challenging for the frontrunners, but when they reach The Gantry and the road heads above 10% only a handful of riders will be left at the front of the race.

For the remaining 6.5km to the summit the road barely drops below 10% at all, suiting the pure climbers and forcing the GC contenders to push to the limit to stay in contention. The road flattens off slightly at the entrance to the Mt. Baw Baw Alpine Resort and the finish to the stage.

It’s a brutal finish to the stage, particularly given it’s the second mountain-top finish in a row, but there is some consolation for the riders — after this stage they can enjoy a well-earned rest day. It’s been a tough first week of the Tour of Australia and there’s plenty more tough racing to come.

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Stay posted for stage 9 of the Tour of Australia, coming soon.

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9 Comments

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  1. Robert Merkel / Jun 11 2013

    Wonderful stages, but there’s a reason why all the grand tours backload the major mountain top finishes into the second and third weeks – it runs the risk of making the winner of the race too obvious, too early.

    Unless you’re planning something like a 200km stage across the Hay Plain to belt the climbers round a bit, of course :)

    • Matt / Jun 11 2013

      Stay posted Robert. 😉

  2. Blair / Jun 11 2013

    Ah yes, the technical descent towards Wesburn.
    Better ensure that any large jutting tree branches have been removed prior to the stage, especially if it’s been raining.

  3. Ben / Jun 11 2013

    Wow! Pretty brutal first week!! It’s shaping up as more of a Giro or Vuelta style tour, rather than the traditional “gently pull the band-aid off” style TdF.

    I reckon Acquarone would be proud of this…..have discussions be entered into with RCS yet? I’m imagine he’d be all over this like a fat kid on a bowl of smarties.

    This series of posts did have me thinking yesterday, I was wandering around the Royal Botanical Gardens in Melbourne and couldn’t help envisioning a ball tearing kermese circuit there…..food for thought for the subsequent Big Root of Australia (see what I did there…)

  4. David / Jun 11 2013

    The scenery is all about Mountains and waterways. The Bunyip State Park, Rugged alpine mountains and several dams (Cardinia, Tarago, Blue Rock Lake, Upper Yarra, Moondarra and the Thomson Reservoir). The Latrobe River, the Tarago and the Yarra. I am sure the chopper would pay Walhalla a visit. The area has great history of farming and gold mining. For hunters of big things, the Big Pheasnat out the front of Gumbuya park in Tyong isn’t too far away: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gumbuya_Park

  5. Matt / Jun 11 2013

    Controversial….skirting around Mt Nong rather than going over it….

  6. Andy / Jun 11 2013

    I move to have Winch Corner renamed Dutch Corner.. Is it too early to hold a spot?

    • Matt / Jun 11 2013

      Nup, we’re taking bookings now. Just $100 per person. Cash only.

      • David / Jun 11 2013

        So who else is in for Dutch corner?
        De Neef, Van Bergan, Blom, Van Seeters?

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