Mountain tour comes to Bright
ABOUT 500 road cyclists and support crews will swarm Bright this weekend for the Annual Tour of Bright three-day cycling race.
The iconic mountain tour starts on Friday afternoon with a 13.5km individual time trial loop leaving Bright along the Back Porepunkah Road and up Roberts Creek Road.
On Day Two riders will leave Bright for Ovens along the Great Alpine Road before turning into Happy Valley and climbing over the Rosewhite Gap, coming out at Running Creek and turning onto the Kiewa Valley Highway for Tawonga.
Elite A Grade riders will race through to Mount Beauty and up the 16km to Bogong Village before turning around.
All other categories will ascend directly up the Tawonga Gap Road and finish at the peak overlooking the Kiewa Valley, Mountain Creek and Mount Bogong.
The final day of the race sees competitors ride from Bright to Harrietville and then begin the gruelling climb to Mount Hotham, finishing at The Cross.
The tour is one of the country’s biggest club stage races, attracting riders from across Australia, and is hosted by North East’s Alpine Cycling Club.
President of the club and race director Aaron Smith said it is a great event to have in the Alpine region.
“The best thing about the tour is the location - getting to race up mountains,” he said.
“There aren’t a lot of mountains in Australia really, so it’s a bit Tour de France-ish, especially with a time trial and two road stages.”
Richie Porte and Cadel Evans are just two well-known professional cyclists who have competed in the race’s 26-year history.
Last year inclement weather forced the cancellation of the event, and Mr Smith said entry numbers may be slightly affected this year as a consequence.
But the field has always been relatively open, and it would be impossible to pick winners across the numerous age and grade categories.
For Mr Smith, the Day Two, 131km stage is a standout.
“That’s the day when the race really gets set up, there’s a lot of tactics involved with some flat land and some hill climbs so it’s the most exciting day.”
With so many competitive cyclists and friends and family in tow, Mr Smith described the atmosphere as exciting.
“It’s a great atmosphere, because there are so many people and everyone is trying to do their best.”
“We did the numbers a few years ago and it brings an estimated $1 million into Bright, so it’s a good thing. It’s a bit inconvenient with a few roads being closed, but it’s good, because the cyclists don’t just come here for the race they come here to stay and train beforehand.”
Major sponsor Bright Brewery will host presentation ceremonies every afternoon of the tour following the day’s stage.
HARD WORK: Riders make their way up Tawonga Gap during last year’s Tour of Bright. SOCIAL ACTIVITY: Tyler Thomason pictured with Ernie Vanderwert and Terry Gibbons is excited for community bowls to start up again in the new year.