Two years ago Velothon Sunshine Coast was merely but a whisper. The world tour series of events was coming to our shores and we simply had to get a closer look. Since then the competition has stiffened and the Queen climb of Obi Obi has become legendary, Velothon returns in 2019 and we’ve got the inside scoop on the stages.
Obi Obi is beyond steep. It’s near 30% pinches will bring a sting to your legs like you’ve never experienced before. Your lungs will burn, the slope too steep to sit down, your calves tighten and strain as they crest 12 o’clock on the pedal stroke. You creep up the brutal ascent one painfully slow pedal stroke at a time – if you’re one of the fortunate not to step off part way up. You spot a familiar jersey ahead, it’s the same as yours – it’s your teammate and they are struggling just like you – but you’re gaining on them. They left you behind earlier on the climb but now is your chance to claw them back.
Want the good news or the bad news? Well, they are one and the same. Obi Obi, the battle royale of Velothon Sunshine Coast is returning for 2019 but with a teammate alongside it’l hurt a little less, right?
Cyclist has followed Velothon since it’s inception in 2017, a world tour with an Australian debut on the Sunshine Coast. In 2018 we even had to chance to ride the hotly-contested Open category over the full 3 Day Velo. Seeing the strength of this event – the turnout for the final stage was over 800 riders – it’s no wonder it’s back in 2019. This time around, we’ll be sure to drag a few new souls along to join in the fun.
Teamwork makes the dream work
One of the interesting developments with an event like Velothon is the course can be changed each year. With rider-favourites like the coastal road to Noosa and the dominating Obi Obi feature in 2019, the order in which they appear has been flipped on its head.
This year also sees a big push in the teams category and so we’ll be attempting to drag – it won’t be hard for Sydneysiders battling winter – a few mates along for the ride. Velothon offers teams up to four riders with the first three counting towards the overall at the end of each stage. At the completion of the weekend, stage times will be totalled and Team classification winners crowned. There will be a female, male and mixed category on offer and better still, Team entry is the same as individuals – so there’s no reason not to rope in some fast guys and girls. For those that like to go it alone, the solo categories are still up for grabs, along with daily KOM, Sprint, and Leader’s jerseys.
Velothon Sunshine Coast takes place in and around the popular coast town of Maroochydore. Those familiar with the event will remember the Clubhouse, the event’s HQ that has everything a rider may need including stage briefings, caffeine, massages, mechanical services, post-ride beverages and hearty meals.
The course itself moves along the coast, and into the hinterland where the real challenges take place. Just remember to save some bikkies for Day 3, it’s the biggest and when the fresh-legged 1 Day Velo riders join the fun and head towards the Glass House Mountains, you’ll be pushed to your limits and beyond.
Stage 1: Coastal – Friday 19 July
101km / 1,185m
The Cotton Tree Clubhouse has always been the hub of Velothon but this year riders will start and finish from the heart of Maroochydore. This year’s opening stage offers a chance to really appreciate just how good the Sunshine Coast is at this time of year as you follow the coast north towards Noosa.
A touch before reaching the tourist-town known for its sellout triathlon and multi-sport events, the bunch will veer left and into the first test of the 3 Day Velo. After a rapid climb up Gyndier Drive it’s time to soak up the sights through Yandina and Bli Bli as the course slowly meanders back towards the finish at Cotton Tree Park. Stage 1 is a little light on the kilometres and elevation count this year but don’t leave all your energy out on the road today, there’s plenty more to come..
Stage 2: Hinterland Climbing – Saturday 20 July
90km / 1,686m
Some of these roads may look familiar but there’s really one core focus for today: Obi Obi. This is the one you’ve trained for and in 2019, it’s tackled on the second day. The hinterland climbing stage has plenty of up and little time for rest but the best part is Obi Obi presents the final test of the day. Make it to the top of this beast and it’s a short, albeit lumpy ride along the Blackwall Range to the finish at Montville.
If you’ve got energy left to burn after taking on this brute, you’re free to relish in the fast-run back to Maroochydore (on your own steam) or drop the bike with event organisers and hop in the bus for a more relaxing ride back into town.
Get some sleep tonight because you’re going to need it for tomorrow.
Stage 3: Glass House Mountains – Sunday 21 July
137km / 2,508m
Velothon veterans will remember the challenge of Stage 1 in 2018 and while some will dread the memory, others will lick their lips as the road heads towards the Glass House Mountains and up into the clouds above Bellthorpe Forest. The legs will be tired from two solid days but today is a celebration of sorts. Make it to the finish line in Cotton Tree and you can consider yourself a conqueror of Velothon Sunshine Coast. Pack extra nutrition along for the ride today because with more than 2,500m of climbing, today is far from a victory lap.
The 1 Day Velo gives riders a chance to sample the experience, running in conjunction with Stage 3. There’s a 76km option too if we’ve scared you off the big route.
The course will feature full traffic management with food and hydration stations along the course with multiple Sprint and KOM sectors.
Velothon Sunshine Coast runs from 19 – 21 July 2019, entries are open now.
3 Day Velo – from $490 (29 March 12am – 6 June 11:59pm)
1 Day Velo – from $160, 76km – from $110 (29 March 12am – 6 June 11:59pm)