Australian cycling great Pat Jonker has given his tick of approval to the challenging 407 kilometre course of the Tour of Geelong, which is set for August 10 to 14 . The tour, first held in 2009, incorporates the Victorian open road championships over the final three days.
"There's a bit of everything in it for everybody," Jonker, current sports director of the Jayco-2XU team said. "It's a hard course but it's really good. Some days will suit sprinters, other days will be for the all-rounders."
His outfit is still looking for its first win in their debut season, despite several podium finishes in the Mersey Valley Tour, Canberra Tour and the Tour of Toowoomba.
Jonker, 12th placegetter in the 1996 Tour de France, bronze medallist behind Stuart O'Grady and Allan Davis in the 2003 Australian road championship, and winner of the 2004 Tour Down Under, gained first-hand experience of the course's varying challenges last year as manager of the Virgin Blue RBS Morgan team.
Virgin Blue's Cameron Peterson, of NSW, won the 143km Victorian road championship at Anakie, while team-mate, Ballarat's Patrick Shaw, was second overall in the tour to Dennis, later to finish fifth in the world Under 23 time trial championship in Geelong.
"I like the Tour of Geelong," Jonker said. "It's a reminder that the world championships were held there and the course gives everybody a chance to do something if they're good enough."
The six-stage tour will begin with a 48km closed circuit criterium starting at 10.30 a.m. at North Shore Sports Club on Wednesday, August 10. Other stages will take in Lara, the You Yangs, Grovedale, Gnarwarre, Ceres and Anakie before the tour finishes with the Victorian open criterium championship in Eastern park at 2.30 p.m. on Sunday, August 14.
Since the tour's inception in 2009, the men have raced five days, with the final three days featuring a time trial, road race and criterium – doubling as the Victorian titles. The women have competed for the last three says, with each event an individual State championship.
The tour, backed by the City of Greater Geelong and Tourism Victoria, is expected to attract about 500 entries from all Australian states and territories, and some from overseas. Tour director John Craven said entries closed on Monday, August 1.
"We are anticipating outstanding fields in both the men's and women's sections," he said. "Australia is building a tremendous talent pool of professional cyclists and a lot of them will be in Geelong for the tour."