Now it’s a Tour de Wang

Felicity Wardlaw leads the cyclists practising in the gym. Picture: TARA GOONAN
Felicity Wardlaw leads the cyclists practising in the gym. Picture: TARA GOONAN

GET on your bike, but keep out of the fog.

The latest North East road safety campaign hopes to get the message across out of the weather — but inside a Wangaratta gym.

This year will be the second running of the Tour de Wang, but it’s not something purely for elite cyclists.

People of any fitness with an interest in taking to the road on two wheels can get involved in the event, which runs over the same timeframe as the prestigious Tour de France from July 5 to 27.

The gym at the YMCA’s Wangaratta Indoor Sports and Aquatic Centre is full of exercise bikes.

Participants can cycle the same distance as each corresponding stage of the French event won by Australian Cadel Evans three years ago.

Tour de Wang was launched at the centre yesterday by Wangaratta’s national time trial champion Felicity “Flick” Wardlaw, who is also Road Safe North East’s cycle safe ambassador.

The event has a dual message — making cycling fun and accessible for all, while highlighting the need for cyclists and motorists to be aware of the need to share the road.

The indoor cycle challenge will be run during Top Ride classes at the gym.

This will mirror the Tour de France by providing time trial, mountain and flat sessions — those clocking their distances will be in the running to be crowned the male and female champions.

Road Safe North East road safety officer Robert Allen said winter was a “foggy and dangerous” time that got a lot of cyclists off the road.

That prompted many to do their work instead at the Wangaratta gym on training bikes.

“There’s a huge turnover of people in and out of this building at the YMCA over the next month,” Mr Allen said.

“They see our promotions, they get our road safety information and we think it promotes that sharing message.”

Mr Allen said there had been several cyclists hit by cars locally recently and motorists were being urged to share the road.

“We know that if a cyclist and a car clash, the car wins — you’ve got no protection in lycra,” he said.

Wardlaw said the event raised awareness that cyclists were out on roads, which meant they and motorists had a “share responsibility”.