Sisters Cathy, Bronwyn and Joanne Roberts at the Family Hotel lunch stop.

The Tour De Cure Signature Tour stopped at the Family Hotel in Cootamundra for lunch last Thursday, 17 March, as part of the Surf Coast to Capital Tour A between March 11-19.

The nine-day tour rides from Geelong to Canberra, with 101 riders and 56 crew members taking in Australia’s Scenic Surf Coast, via rural Victoria and the Riverina region of NSW, before finishing in the nation’s capital.

Tour De Cure’s Signature Tour has already raised over $1.76 million in hopes of achieving its target of $2 million.

Thursday’s Day 7 of Tour A started in Wagga, wound its way through the Riverina, through Cootamundra, before finishing the day in Young, a journey that covered 161km of road.

To recoup and refuel, the Tour De Cure stopped at the Family Hotel, with the first group arriving just after midday, lunching from their catering van.

Sally Hegimbotham, Content Manager for Tour De Cure who manages their social media and organises Sunrise crosses each morning, spoke with The Times at the lunch Pit Stop at the Family Hotel.

“Normally we would visit schools and we would have community dinners as well, but we’re just trying to work out our own COVID safe protocols,” Sally said.

“So, that means we’re unfortunately not able to do too much with the communities nor the schools. It’s not a federal or state rule, it’s our own just to make sure that we’re not carrying anything we shouldn’t be.

The Tour almost agrees in unison that the most challenging aspect of this year’s tour is not getting to embrace the community like year’s prior.

“We’ve been doing this since 2007, so the biggest challenge for everyone really is not to see the communities. We’d love to go in, meet people and invite them to dinner and make sure the team knows exactly where the money’s going,” Sally continued.

“So every night on tour, we donate $10,000 to a local cancer charity. Last night, it was to Can Assist in Wagga and going forward to Cancer Council in Young, but every night is different and there are nine individual $10,000 cheques. We want to make sure we’re supporting regional people with cancer support.”

Sally said that because of their strict but necessary COVID safe protocols the Tour De Cure was able to run the last couple of years through the pandemic without much hindrance.

“Because of our protocols, check them with the police and we were allowed to run a COVID safe tour in 2020 and then a smaller one in 2021. It’s just all about being able to be reactive to the situation,” she said.”

The crew of 56 members include lead and rear car drivers, navigators in each car, mechanics, massage therapists, caters, photographers and documentary filmmakers to name a few. Each rider on the tour has had to raise $12,000 each including a $1000 personal donation, with the support crew needing to raise $3,500 inclusive of a $500 personal donation.

The Tour De Cure hopes they can achieve the $2 million donation target set at the beginning of the tour, with each rider fundraising as they go via social media.

The Tour De Cure hasn’t been through Cootamundra in recent memory, but the town has embraced the fundraiser with open arms.

“I haven’t been to Cootamundra before but the most amazing thing about this Tour is just how many people on the side of the road are handing over donations, it’s just been quite mind-blowing. even on Sunrise crosses.” Sally said.

“We’re so lucky. We get usually get toots and waves on the road. We try our best to manage traffic around our peloton, so we don’t hold anyone up. That’s the last thing we want to do is to waste anyone’s time. The lead and rear manage traffic all to keep the rider safe and the traffic moving.”

Tour A of the Signature Tour finished last Saturday in Canberra.

Tim Warren