Geelong Recon – Where To Watch The Race

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Photo courtesy of Sirotti

Yesterday Leigh and I decided to pull a sickie and go to Geelong to scope out the World Champs circuit, find out about the best coffee shops and restaurants, and to generally figure out logistics for the week of the events. In this post I’ll tell you my opinion on the best places to watch the race from and the amenities at hand.

Melbourne to Geelong

We drove out to Geelong along the same route that the Men’s race will take from Melbourne. I didn’t look too closely at the route until now but as we were driving I realised it’s almost exactly the same roads as the Melbourne-Warnambool has been using since I started racing it 5yrs ago.

The interesting variable will be the crosswinds from Melbourne to Geelong. I’ve seen fields ripped to shreds on these narrow country roads.  I’m guessing they’ll all take it easy up until Geelong and it’ll basically be a parade, but you never know. It wouldn’t make much sense for a team to try splitting the field here in the early part of the race and it wouldn’t achieve much, but I’d sure like to see it happen!

Typical back roads from Melbourne to Geelong. Flat, straight, exposed and relatively narrow

The good thing about the riders taking these backroads is that us spectators can see the start at Federation Square and zip over to Geelong on the Princess Freeway (remember, the riders will be going over the Westgate bridge, so you’ll need to drive via Footscray to get over the river. See other transportation options here). Personally I wouldn’t bother trying to see any of the race along the course between Melbourne and Geelong.

The riders arrive to Geelong via the Princess Freeway and the race is then taken along the beautiful waterfront and quickly onto the 16km circuit through the finish area. It might be worth checking out the “Bike Shop” Expo along the pier before the riders arrive and then you’ll be in a prime position to see the riders’ grand entrance to Geelong.

The Ridge

There’s no doubt this is where the race will take it’s toll on the riders. I’ve heard people say this climb reaches 22%. I’m not sure it’s that steep, but it’s definitely a good pinch (my GPS said it’s 18%). The fact that there’s a solid 1.5km climb before this final section is what will make it difficult.  If you want a good place to watch, this is it. The race probably won’t be won here, but it’s where the riders will be spat out the back.

From what I understand from the Official Guide, “The Ridge” will be have the following amenities:

  • Big Screen TV to watch all the action
  • Public Catering
  • Medical Station
  • Merchandise
  • Event Information
  • Bike Racks
  • Toilets

This climb is the place to be.  It’s gonna be one big party!

It’s hard to show a good perspective on the steepness of the climb, but this gives a bit of an indication.

Some of the Kiwi U23’s going for a roll up the climb. I’m pretty sure that’s Floyd Landis in the background trying to keep up

Trivia: The elite men will have to do a total of about 3000m of climbing.  The Mendrisio course featured about 4750 meters of climbing.

Shortly after the Ridge the riders fly down the descent and come to the infamous “Bridge” that the media is making a big fuss about.  From what I’m told, the reason a temporary bridge had to be build it because this single lane has the potential of causing chaos if a race vehicle were to break down on it.  I’ve seen roads in Europe that they race down that are narrower than this, so I’m not sure if there’s another reason behind building a temporary bridge.

The climb up Aphrasia St right after the bridge is going to be an excellent place to watch. It’s a proper climb and difficult enough that attacks might be able to stick during the final laps. There aren’t any amenities here that I know of, but this is a section of the course that I’ll be watching from in the latter part of the race.

The original Bridge. If you look closely you can see that the road goes straight up right after the crossing.

The “New Bridge” that was nearly underwater a couple weeks ago. It’s basically parallel to the permanent bridge

The thing about this new bridge is that the riders will come flying down a free flowing descent and then have to do a hard left, then right which will basically bring them to a standstill (probably 20km/hr) before ascending the second climb. Without this chicane turn the riders would have come straight over the permanent bridge at about 70km/hr and have lots of momentum to hammer the climb. If the roads are wet, this new approach might be quite dangerous for the riders.

Alex Rasmussen and a few others out for a spin

Look who I bumped into!  My O2 teammate / Great Britain swany Andy Naylor and U23 rider Alex Dowsett

Finish Line

The finish line down Moorabool Street is starting to take shape. In just over a week this will be an absolute mad-house at the anticipated 5pm finish time.  It’s a slight 2-3% rise for about 300m and will suit guys like Freire, Gilbert and Evans wonderfully.

The Action

The map below shows the places I think are best to watch from. Of course the Ridge is the #1 place to catch the action.  If you bring your bike you’ll be able to ride to the different sections of the course. The riders do 11 laps so you’ll have lots of time to take everything in. There are big screen jumbotrons at many locations along the course and heaps of places to keep your kids entertained.


In case you’ve missed it, here’s Koen de Kort, Tiffany Cromwell, Chris Tymms and myself riding the course:

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