Sun Tour brings benefits to Mansfield
WHEN a cycling tour such as the Herald Sun Tour comes to town you would expect an economic boost and perhaps other benefits.
This past weekend saw some 90 professional cyclists, along with their entourages, hit Mansfield and Mt Buller and surrounding district for one day only.
There were of course many cycling enthusiasts out to watch the progress of the race which commenced outside the CFA fire station on Saturday morning around 10.30am.
The previous night the riders and team support were accommodated in town with the majority staying at the Alzburg Inn.
Along with the professional cycling teams of course comes the ‘escorts’, motorcyclists engaged to support the riders, and the police motorcyclists and additional cars.
The Mansfield Motel benefited by accommodating mainly the police escorts while the Mansfield Valley Motor Inn also hosted some riders and their support crews.
But did the town benefit from the tour?
Considering this event still had one day to go, and an early morning start, it was not expected that the cyclists would ‘party’ or be out on the town.
But they did go out and eat in the local hotels and restaurants before calling it an early night.
So what were the benefits? Mansfield Shire economic and development manager Derek Beautyman said this event attracts a lot of followers, some even coming from interstate just to watch.
“And it is live streamed globally so the marketing of the Mansfield branding is big and will be an advantage,” he said.
Mr Beautyman said around the world it is estimated that more than 1.5 million people would be watching by live stream.
“Facebook hits are estimated at more than 200,000 and Youtube also 200,000 so for an international audience to see our district is a huge bonus,” Mr Beautyman said.
“Dollars are generated through accommodation bookings and meals – and we need customers so hopefully some will return and others will be encouraged to come.
“There is a huge cycling fraternity out there and showing our district to the world can only be good.”
Mansfield is becoming more and more popular with cyclists and in the lead up to Mansfield’s own big weekend of cycling, the Mansfield Subaru Tour over March 21 and 22, the Sun Tour may have encouraged a few more visitors to hit the High Country.
Tolmie Sports were also being held on the same day and apart from the traffic interruptions would have gained some benefits from the additional publicity both prior and during the race.
Traffic in High Street was disrupted for only about an hour with the closure of Highett Street from Curia Street (from 5.30am), through the roundabout down the north side of High Street and out to the Tolmie-Whitfield Road for the first start of the race.
Once the cyclists had completed the Barwite Loop it was back into town, down Chenery Street (closed again for a short time) and then up the Tolmie-Whitfield Road for the major first climb of the Mansfield leg.
“The cyclists move faster than you may first think so the disruption to traffic was minimal,” Mr Beautyman said.
Once a loop of Tolmie had been completed it was back down to Mt Buller Road and heading for the big hill – Mt Buller where Stage 4 of the race came to a conclusion.
Mt Buller would have gained benefits with the additional television coverage of the mountain.
But spectators and cycling enthusiasts would have had some grand viewpoints to watch the exciting end of the race where Simon Yates was expected to take out the stage win.
Mr Beautyman said tours such as this would be welcomed in Mansfield at any time as it is just not the economic boost to traders but the publicity is a huge advantage for our tourism.
“It reinforces our district to a national and international audience as a calibre cycling destination.”
BIG WEEKEND: The weekend fs race saw 90 cyclists, along with their entourages and fans, hit Mansfield and Mt Buller and surrounding districts.