Moun­tain tour comes to Bright

Alpine Observer - - Sport - [email protected] ne­me­

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.

PHOTO: Jean-Pierre Ronco PHOTO: Justin Jen­vey

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.

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