Internationally acclaimed cycling coach David Sanders today described the route for the 2017 Port of Portland-Fulton Hogan Tour of the Great South Coast as one of the best courses ever designed for a modern-day Australian road race.
“It’s a classic, it’s got everything,” said Sanders who was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in the recent Queen’s Birthday honours for his lifelong contribution to cycling.
Sanders, 62, has not missed a Great South Coast Tour since its inception in 2012, mainly as the manager of a succession of young teams from the Victorian Institute of Sport where he was head cycling coach for nearly 24 years.
But overseas commitments will force him to miss the tour’s sixth edition, which starts with a 36-kilometre morning criterium at Mount Gambier’s Vansittart Park in South Australia on Wednesday, July 26. (Course outline attached).
Over the past couple of years, Sanders has worked as a specialist coach for Cycling Australia and the international trade team Orica-Scott, preparing riders for major events like the Olympic Games, Tour de France and world road championships.
He will depart Australia next Saturday and head for the mountainous principality of Andorra, a tiny country nestled between Spain and France in the Pyrenees. His mission at the three-week altitude training camp will be to hone the climbing skills of a small contingent of riders for the Tour of Spain and world road championships in Bergen, Norway, in September.
The exclusive group will include the multiple big-race winner Simon Gerrans and the South Australian Olympic silver medallist Alex Edmondson who first caught the eye as a road rider with a gutsy second placing in the 2013 Tour of the Great South Coast, also winning the CFMEU Rising Star Award and the gruelling final stage around Camperdown’ s Lakes and Craters district.
“The Great South Coast Tour is the perfect event for young riders like Alex Edmondson to display their talents,” Sanders said. “He went to the Olympic Games twice as a track rider, but now his immediate future is on the road overseas with Orica-Scott. It’s exciting.”
Sanders said the 2017 Great South Coast course was beautiful, challenging, unpredictable and potentially career-defining.
“You’ll have tough hills around Mount Gambier’s Blue Lake, Casterton and Cape Bridgewater, plus wide-open, wind-affected spaces in and out of that charming little fishing village, Port MacDonnell. I love going to that race, it’s a great event.”
Sanders, who has guided and helped countless young cyclists throughout his 27-year coaching career, said he was humbled and “a little embarrassed” with his Queen’s Birthday honour.
“I just feel there are a lot more deserving people around than me,” he said. “To be honest, I was quite shocked when I was advised.”
Sanders, who as a cyclist won the 1978 Austral Wheelrace, and an Australian Madison Championship and two Launceston six-day races with Murray Hall, said that although he would not be present at the five-day Great South Coast Tour, he would following the race’s progress on social media.
“I’ll be keen to see which young cyclist emerges through the ranks,” he said.
The Tour of the Great South Coast will be held from July 26-30 and will take in a 500-kilometre course in South Australia and Victoria, with backing from the municipalities of Mount Gambier, Grant and Glenelg.
The six-stage teams event is expected to attract a top-class field of about 100 cyclists from all Australian states and New Zealand. Entries close with Cycling Victoria on Monday, July 17.
The tour is one of the key events on Cycling Australia’s 2017 Subaru National Road Series calendar.