The 57th Jayco Herald Sun Tour starts on October 12 in Traralgon, Australia. One of the biggest names at the start will be Brad McGee, who will be lining up for his last professional bike race. McGee retires this season as a rider, but will continue as a directeur sportif.
There are other favourites for the overall title, such as David Pell, the winner of the 2008 Australian Road Series. Pell is backed by a strong Savings & Loans team.
The tour will open with a circuit race that doesn't form part of the general classification. Over the past two years the final stage has proved pivotal in deciding the winner of the Tour. In 2006 Simon Gerrans took the time bonuses on offer in the final sprint to claim overall honours ahead of Chris Jongewaard. Last year Matt Wilson had to mark Astana's Steve Morabito all the way to the line as he held just a slender three-second advantage over the Swiss climber.
A L'Etape du Tour - named after the famous ride of the Tour de France - will offer everyone to get a feel for how it is to ride a stage. This year, the choice was for people to be able to test the slopes of Mt Buller, part of the queen stage of this year's tour. The vent takes place on October 16, with a scheduled start of 8:30, at the Botanic Gardens in Mansfield.
For those rather interested in hanging out, the euro-style 'Go for your life' Tour Villages at the start of each stage will offer a glimpse on the final pre-race preparations of the pros.
The village is a great opportunity for children and adults alike to participate in a variety of 'come and try' activities, health promotion activities, tour sponsor displays, free sponsor give-aways and entertainment.
For those who deem L'Etape du Tour too hard, there will be a 'Go for your life' Community Ride on Sunday 12 October in Traralgon. It's free and fun for everyone. The ride starts at 15:10.