The race was started by a local business man Bruce Reid who owned a restaurant. He saw that people came up here to train and thought, let’s give them a race to enter. It was put on a weekend that was slow, and would hopefully bring some tourism to town. It began as a very small race with just 2 grades (A & B). One stage out to Buffalo River Dam & a criterium.
1994 was the first “official” running of the race when it began to take the shape it has now. That year Dean Woods (Olympian) won A grade. Cadel Evans raced in B grade as a junior. Richie Porte won A Grade in his second season of racing in 2007 by winning stage 1 and stage 2.
The race has tried many formats and times. It was originally held in May. This caused problems with the weather. As some races had hail & snow. Even Tawonga Gap had snow on it one year. It was then moved to Melbourne Cup weekend for 2 years. Since then it moved to the first weekend in December. The club was told it would never work as December is track season & no one would turn up.
For years it was a 4 stage race. Gaps Loop, TT, Mt Buffalo Ascent & a crit. The swapping of the Mt Buffalo stage for the Mt Hotham stage left no time for a crit, hence now only 3 stages. This has made the race even more popular as for the last 3 years the race has had to be capped at 550. It has reached that cap earlier & earlier each year. Now it’s a challenge just to get into the event.
Some famous names have raced in the Tour. Ana Wilson, and Kathy Watt raced in B grade as there were no woman’s grades. Now there are 3 woman’s grades. Katie Mactier is the only person to do a clean sweep. She won the GC, sprint king & KOM jersey’s. Ritchie Porte won in 2007. It’s great to see people in our race who then go on to much bigger things.
The format is obviously working. The TT is the reason there is a cap, as it takes all afternoon to get every rider though. We here many stories about people buying TT bikes especially for this race. The Alpine Cycling Club are working on some other ideas to make the weekend bigger & better for competitors and their support. So who knows what’s next!