In the tradition of Italy's Gran Fondo, Jayco Herald Sun Tour organiser TL Sports will be running a mass participation event called Excelior Cyclismo on Saturday, October 13 as part of the opening weekend of tour and the Bendigo on Wheels festival.
The 'fondo' is an opportunity for cycling fans to ride with the stars. Members from the professional teams contesting the tour will join enthusiasts to ride some of the roads from Stage 1 of Australia's oldest road cycling stage race. The event is ridden on the exact circuit that ride patron and Sydney Olympic gold medallist Scott McGrory used in the lead up to the 2000 Olympic Games.
The event starts and finishes in Bendigo, in central Victoria, which holds a weekend cycling festival packaged around the Tour. The weekend will also include Heritage Uncorked, a wine festival showcasing Bendigo's local wine, restaurants and gold rush architecture.
Riders can choose between two routes on offer. A challenging 134.2 kilometres ride through the scenic rolling hills of the goldfields district surrounding Bendigo and Castlemaine. The route passes through the historic towns of Maldon, Newstead and Chewton before tackling the two King of the Mountain climbs featured during the first stage. The second option is a less demanding but equally scenic course over 83.5 km from Bendigo to Maldon before heading across to Ravenswood South and on to Harcourt North. The route then re-joins the longer course to wind its way back into Bendigo via Sedgwick.
Aid stations, first aid and technical support will be provided for all participants and each rider will receive a commemorative musette on the day. Following the ride the official team's presentation will take place in the heart of Bendigo's arts precinct at The Capital - Bendigo's Performing Arts Centre.