June 13, 2013

Tour of Australia: stage 9

stage9
It’s roughly two weeks until the 100th edition of the Tour de France gets underway, 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 9. Enjoy!

Route: Traralgon to Bairnsdale
Distance: 207km
Climbing: 1,050m

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

After a well-earned rest day the riders will assemble in the rural centre of Traralgon before embarking on stage 9 of the Tour of Australia. With only 1,050m of climbing in 207km it’s certainly not a hilly stage, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a climb or two to shake things up.

In fact, the day’s only notable rises come inside the first 30km with the 2nd category Red Hill Road climb starting after just 13km of racing, followed by a 4.5km, 3rd category climb 2km of descending later. Neither of the climbs are ridiculously steep, but coming so early in the stage, and with several pinches above 10%, they’re far from an easy re-introduction to the race post-rest day.

From the top of the second climb, just 30km into the stage, the riders make their way onto the stunning fern-lined Grand Ridge Road which they descend towards Yarram. From Yarram, roughly 60km into the stage it’s a touch less than 150km to the stage finish and almost all of it is flat.

After turning onto the South Gippsland Highway and heading north east the riders will come across the first intermediate sprint point in Woodside after 80km of racing. A further 54km up the road, in Sale, the riders will pass through the second and final intermediate sprint point of the day before heading north east on Bengworden Road towards the stage finish in Bairnsdale.

The stage finishes on the dead-straight, dead-flat main street of Bairnsdale in front of what would hopefully be a large and enthusiastic crowd.

stage9

While the early climbing on stage 9 is likely to put the sprinters in difficulty, this is a stage that would more than likely end in a bunch sprint. It’s hard to imagine the GC contenders shelling the field so early in the stage and trying to hold a lead in the remaining 150km+ as the sprinters teams get organised behind them.

It’s a stage that might suit an early breakaway. A handful of opportunistic riders might jump away from the bunch on the early climb and get through to Yarram with a useful lead. But it would take a sizeable group working together on the flatlands to ensure that their lead is maintained as the sprinters’ teams try to chase them down.

For spectators of the race, either watching at home or in person, there are many great vistas and places of interest to check out. Tarra-Bulga National Park features early in the stage and the stunning views of Wilsons Promontory90 Mile Beach, the Gippsland Lakes would surely get their moment in the spotlight courtesy of the TV helicopters.

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Stay posted for stage 10 of the Tour of Australia, coming tomorrow.

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13 Comments

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  1. Brent / Jun 13 2013

    I appreciate you route picked as it has some interesting parts. I don’t appreciate your description of Red Hill road being “ridiculously steep” I brought the incorrect gears one time and had to walk a bit.
    Not the way i would go though as Yarram to Sale and Sale to bairnsdale via bengworden is actually pretty boring. I would probably hang north from Traralgon through Heyfiled/glenmaggie then through briagalong and beverleys road to lindenow. People who have done the last couple of Stratford to dargoes would have done Beverleys road. North from lindenow entering Bairsndale from the east. This would have a bit of a one day classic sort of feel to it with about 60 km at the end with very continuous small climbs. Sort out the strong sprinters. No wooden bridges.

  2. Ben / Jun 13 2013

    This would surely be treated as a transitional stage with a small breakaway group (containing riders well over 55mins down on GC: Jeremy Roy, Arthur Vichot, Travis Meyer, Gorka Izagirre and Andy Schleck) allowed up to a 13 minute gap with Vichot eventually taking the stage in a two up sprint over Izagirre with a 2 min 45 sec gap back to the cruising peloton.

    Schleck will of course crash into a wombat 3.2km from the finish and lose further time on GC.

  3. GlennR / Jun 13 2013

    Wiggo has now withdrawn after seeing the Tarra Valley road descent.

    I’ve only done the descent once (in greasy conditions) and would hate to be racing the likes of Evans and Nibali down there.

  4. Dan / Jun 13 2013

    It can get pretty windy down there. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some echelons form and possible time gaps open up.

  5. Deryck Walker / Jun 13 2013

    Please tell me in an upcoming stage you are doing the climb up Clyde Mountain (which climbs from Batemans bay on the coast to Canberra).

    Basically 35kms from coast to the top of the climb, with the hardest part of the climb 5kms at 10% – http://app.strava.com/activities/510983#882196558

    • David / Jun 13 2013

      You shall just have to stay tuned 😉

      The course is already chosen, so there will be no alterations. Apologies to everybody once more if we haven’t visited or won’t visit you favourite location, we just can’t go everywhere!

  6. Rohan Symons / Jun 13 2013

    What about a team time trial around Tassie?

    • David / Jun 13 2013

      This stage goes over Mt Tassie, isn’t that good enough?

  7. David / Jun 13 2013

    The region to the south of Moe, Morewell and Traralgon would have to include some of the best and most densly packed rural climbing roads in the state of Victoria. Well worth a visit, especially in winter, if you favourite alpine climb is snowed under. Lakes Entrance, Metung and Paynesville (the Victorian Riveria) will be visible today from the chopper.

  8. Jon Thornton / Jun 13 2013

    I did part of this ride recently (Traralgon to Yarram). Unfortunately, it was raining on the day that I rode so I wasn’t able to let fly on the descent.

    The Tarra Valley descent is utterly spectacular with enormous Mountain Ash trees and massive tree ferns lining the road. As you descend, you get the feeling that the forest is in the process of reclaiming the road.

    The Tarra Valley descent is quite technical. The road is extremely narrow and windy and it is littered with fallen bark and leaves. At the bottom of the descent, there are several bike-eating wooden plank bridges. There simply isn’t a safe way to ride a bike across these bridges. You MUST get off your bike and walk. These bridges would need to be made bike-safe for the Tour of Australia.

    • David / Jun 13 2013

      This bridge: http://goo.gl/maps/7edqk

      I am sure that a Tour would be a great excuse to do up the bridges…

      • Matt / Jun 13 2013

        Absolutely. You only need to think back to the 2010 road world champs in Geelong to see that such upgrades are a possibility: http://www.geelongaustralia.com.au/library/docs/Works_Alert_Fact_Sheet.pdf

      • Jon Thornton / Jun 13 2013

        David, that’s one of the bridges. It is hard to tell from the Google photo, but some of those cracks are wide enough to swallow a wheel down to the axle.

        I’m in two minds about upgrading the bridges. On one hand, it would make life much easier, faster and safer for us cyclists, but on the other hand it might have a negative impact on the character of the bridges. I like the look of the bridges as they are. Yes, I’m a sentimental old fart. 😉

        Matt and David, I’m really enjoying the Tour of Australia route. It is giving me some great ideas for long, challenging day rides. I’m guessing north from Bairnsdale, Omeo, Falls Creek for stage 10.

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