Lots of local action coming up
2017 Sun Tour route out yesterday
I expect we’ll head up to Kinglake for the finale
The Sun Tour in particular is shaping up as a thrilling contest with Chaves and Froome set to headline and organisers today revealing an exciting new course. The race will again begin with a 2.1km prologue time trial in the heart of Melbourne, before making the trek to north-east Victoria for stage 1.
Starting in the rural centre of Wangaratta, the stage will go over the popular Tawonga Gap climb, before finishing with a 26km ascent towards Falls Creek. The stage will end 3.8km shy of the village — at the Howman’s Gap tollbooth — to avoid the steeper final section to the resort.
“Originally we looked at not going up any of the major mountains, but when you suddenly have two of the world’s greatest climbers, you’ve got to put a platform for them,” said race director John Trevorrow. “And Falls [Creek] is perfect I think because if you went over [Mount] Hotham or [Mount] Buffalo — a steeper climb — it would really decimate the field.
“This way, even though everyone’s only talking about two bike riders, I believe there’ll be more still in the mix after the first day.”
Stage 2 starts in Mount Beauty and features a tough 10km climb to Stanley, before finishing with a rolling 9km descent into Beechworth. Stage 3 will be the only chance for the sprinters, with a largely flat day starting in Benalla and finishing inside the Mitchelton Winery.
The Sun Tour’s popular race-ending summit finish at Arthurs Seat is gone in 2017 and will be replaced with a circuit around the town of Kinglake.
“They’ve got enormous new infrastructure there [at Arthurs Seat] with the chairlift, which I’m sure will be great for the area,” Trevorrow said. “But when our planning was all going in there was a lot of uncertainty about road closures. It was just very hard.
“In reality, we’ve been there [Arthurs Seat] quite a few years and what we do is … this race moves around. So I’m quite excited about Kinglake — I think we will get a huge crowd and it will be a wonderful day.”
Starting in Kinglake, the stage will comprise four laps of a 30km circuit which includes a long descent out of Kinglake and a 5km climb on Kinglake-Glenburn Road which peaks 2.5km from the finish line.
The main climb from St. Andrews — one of Melbourne’s most popular training climbs — won’t be used in the race and will instead be kept free for fans to access Kinglake.