Giro Della Donna a mountainous success

Cyclists flocked to Warburton for the 2022 Giro Della Donna. Picture: PIPER ALBRECHT

By Callum Ludwig

The Giro Della Donna in Warburton took off last weekend, with the Piccolo Giro and Gravel Giro on Saturday 2 April and the grand Giro Della Donna on Sunday 3 April.

The event was opened by a Friday 1 April night 3-course dinner and drinks event, the Serata Coppi, at Projekt 3488 in Warburton for only 80 guests. Attendees were joined by a special guest; recently-retired professional cyclist Mitch Docker.

Event manager Michael Hands steered the ship as organisers prepared for the event, and said the Warburton area provides a unique experience for riders.

“Almost all of the course is through beautiful, stunning, quiet forested roads, it’s got to be the most picturesque mass-participation ride course in the country,” he said.

“It also appeals to riders looking for a bit of a challenge, a bit harder than just a flat ride, with the two big climbs up Reefton Spur towards Lake Mountain and then the Acheron Way gravel section and whole narrow road through the forest and over the Great Dividing Range.”

Riders were briefed for the Gravel Giro at 11:45am and the ride started at 12pm on Saturday, with music, face-painting, food and drink, plus a few surprises, were all on offer on the day courtesy of CIRE and Yarra Junction residents and roving judges will be picking out the best-dressed bikes (and riders) for prizes.

The weather was looking poorly for the weekend, but Mr Hands said there was contingency plans in place.

“Riders have a saying: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. The riders have got a range of clothing jackets, gilets and vests to keep them a lot warmer,” he said.

“We have a mobile medical team that works on the event as well, trained for different conditions to deal with anyone who’s suffering from the cold, and we do have contingency plans as well, if the weather turns really foul we might not be able to finish on top of Mt Donna Buang but continue down from Acheron Way back into Warburton.”

The 125km Giro della Donna itself started at 8am on Sunday and riders glided through temperate rainforest and towering trees before reaching a pit stop in Marysville, than taking on the challenging incline over 8km to the summit of Mt Donna Buang and a 20km descent.

Mr Hands is glad the opportunity for riders to travel out to areas like Warburton is back.

“We’re all deliriously happy to be able to travel again, so we just hope that all the people who come to town for the event enjoy it,” he said

“Then hopefully they come back outside of the event as well, become regulars and help sustain and grow the businesses and let them prosper.”

The event worked with traffic management services, as well as local authorities and emergency services to manage the event. Thomas Avenue was closed at both ends for the entire weekend except for event traffic, and there were many other temporary closures over the course of the event.