The Tour of Gippsland is the first round of the Scody Cup and will kick off with the familiar San Remo criterium on the morning of August 1. Situated minutes from San Remo is the Phillip Island Grand Prix, the host for a 66.75km kermesse held in the afternoon of the same day.
This is the first time the famous race circuit will be used for a round of the Scody Cup and included in the Australian National Road Series however, a number of cycling events have been held around the track in the past. Phillip Island Grand Prix manager, Fergus Cameron, was excited to be a part of the six-day, nine-stage event and spoke to Caribou Publications, which owns the Scody Cup.
"It is very smooth and undulating which makes it more interesting" and "he hoped the stage at the circuit is exciting and memorable for all participants."
Those who have raced around the circuit before will be aware of the possible challenges to be faced. The 4.45km circuit changes direction frequently and the coastal winds will likely play a large part in the stage's result.
Teams will travel from Phillip Island to Moe the following day for the first of two stages. Last year Steele Von Hoff (Genesys Wealth Advisers) held off Philip Grenfell (BikeBug.com) at the finish in the flowing Moe South Primary School criterium. The Moe win was one of five victories collected by Von Hoff in the Gippsland tour and no doubt played a role in his move to Jonathan Vaughters Development squad, Team Chipotle-First Solar. Moe's morning criterium will be followed by a second stage held in the afternoon starting in Morwell and finishing 55.2km later in Yinnar.
Travelling is limited between stages on each day but like day two, teams will have to travel a short distance to Sale for Friday morning's wake-up criterium. There's another double-stage day to be tackled and the afternoon road stage will test how well riders are recovering with a 102km route from Maffra to Dargo.
Bairnsdale will once again hold a 30-lap criterium around a rectangular-shaped 1.1km course. The circuit may be flat but the short and narrows corners mean that positioning is vital as last year's winner, Alexander Ray (Pure Black Racing) demostrated and used his technical skills to keep his breakaway of three riders clear from the charging pack. Ray also won this same criterium in 2010 when he rode most of the second-half of the race on his own in atrocious and raining conditions.
The penultimate stage from Lakes Entrance to Metung could have broken the peloton apart in the 2011 edition if it wasn't for an agreement between the riders to neutralise part of the 69.3km stage after an incident. This year, barring any repeat, a select group could stay away and challenge for line honours. The rolling course has some steep pinches which will put tired legs into difficulty but stronger sprinters will no doubt want another chance before the final stage on Sunday.
The sea-side course around Paynesville will be a welcome sight for the riders. The peloton should negotiate this course with little trouble as long as the weather plays its part. This stage has ended in a bunch sprint over the past two years and with a week of lead-out training completed, the sprint trains will be out in force.
Teams will have just 10 days to rest-up before the Tour of the South Coast. The second round of the Scody Cup is held over five-days and runs from 15-19 August.