Tour of Gippsland starts Wednesday

THE ninth Tour of Gippsland cycling race will begin on Wednesday.

The five-day event, comprising eight stages, will be the sixth men’s event on this year’s National Road Series.

Riders will cover 517 kilometres.

It will be the beginning of a new era for the race, which is now operated by Cycling Australia’s own events team.

The Tour of Gippsland will begin on Wednesday with a criterium on Phillip Island before a 66km kermesse on the grand prix circuit.

On Thursday, riders will leave Leongatha for Yinnar.

With the course featuring a long and arduous climb out of Leongatha, expect the field to split early before the general classification contenders to show their strength.

The action continues on Friday, August 2 both a criterium in Sale and a road race to Licola.

Beginning at 10.30am, the criterium around Sale 545 Primary School, Victoria Park and up to Barkley St will no doubt be a welcome relief for the sprinters, while most will just be hoping to head into the afternoon’s test with fresh legs.

Beginning at 1pm, riders will then look to make up for any poor performances on stage three will head guns blazing into the new 97km race from Sale to Licola via Maffra,

Briagolong, Valencia Creek and Lake Glenmaggie. A breakaway is expected to form early and stay away before the leader’s teammates reel them in and deliver their main men to the base of the first climb.

The stage will finish at Licola around 3.30pm.

Whoever makes it to the top of the second king of the mountain checkpoint will be hoping the peloton won’t catch up in the final 10km dash to the finish.

Saturday’s racing features two stages, beginning with the Lakes Entrance criterium, where a battle for the green jersey is sure to be in full swing before the afternoon’s road race, a 69.3km trek from Lakes Entrance to Metung.

Sunday will no doubt feature an action placed final stage in Traralgon. The criterium will be the final chance for the sprinters to grab glory while the GC leader will be looking for the protection of teammates to deliver them to the line with the bunch.