Crowds expected to fill Buninyong for Ballarat's own Tour de France

IF you ever wanted to experience the Tour de France from the comfort of your own backyard, then Buninyong is the place to be this Sunday.

While cycling might not necessarily be everyone’s cup of tea, crowds of thousands are expected to line the hills of Buninyong for their chance to catch a glimpse of the two-wheeled sports stars on the final day of the Cycling Australia Road National Championship. 

The carnival-like atmosphere draws in the crowd like nothing else.

Gove Cycles co-owner Arthur Shaw said he was looking forward to being in the crowd on Sunday. 

“They sit there for three to four hours and watch the guys slog it out,” he said. 

“Up on the hill where the King of the Mountain is, (that is) definitely what you see on the TV with the Tour de France.”

Thursday will be one of the easiest days for locals to get in on the action, given it takes place on Sturt Street, according to Mr Shaw who said he was eager to get to the event. 

“That style of racing, the criterium, is usually one kilometre or slightly less in distance, so it is all about doing laps and people attacking off the front group and the main group chasing down that lead group,” he said. 

“If you are looking for the volume of spectators then Sunday is the day.

“It has become quite the carnival affair and if you go and walk up the hill on the Midland Highway people park their cars and set up their picnic tables and their barbecues.”

Ballarat Tourism chief executive George Sossi said each day of the event presented different opportunities for fans.

“Sunday is clearly the best day,” he said. “On the mountain you see a lot of the action and you get that Tour de France feeling, with spectators lining up either side.” 

The event begins today at Burrumbeet.

matthew.dixon@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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