Channel 7 Sunrise sports presenter Mark Beretta, front, joins with his peleton after finishing the Glen Innes-to-Grafton stage of the Tour de Cure.
Channel 7 Sunrise sports presenter Mark Beretta, front, joins with his peleton after finishing the Glen Innes-to-Grafton stage of the Tour de Cure.

Tour de Cure hits Grafton

WHAT a difference a few years, the presence of a TV celebrity and state-of-the-art internet technology can make.

Late yesterday afternoon the 100 riders of the 2010 Tour de Cure, an annual bike ride that raises funds for cancer charities rolled into Grafton after a 159km ride down the Gibraltar Range from Glen Innes.

As they arrived the riders spoke of the difference in the reception they received when they made their first visit to Grafton three years ago.

“Three years ago it was ‘get off the road’ and rude gestures,” one said. “This time it’s been waves and how’re you going?”

It was an aspect of the tour that co-founder Geoff Coombes had noticed as well, and which he attributes to the growing recognition of the event, which has been running since 2007 and covered most of the eastern seaboard of Australia between Melbourne and Cairns.

As he arrived Mr Coombes learned the tally for the ride, which finished its sixth stage in Grafton, stood at $1.394 million and was well on its way to a revised target of $1.5 million.

“We originally set the target at $1 million, but like every year of the tour, we have been able to revise the target higher,” Mr Coombes said.

“We have GPS trackers linked to the internet and people have been following us and coming out to their gates to wave and make donations.”

Mr Coombes said each of the riders taking part in the event has pledged to raise $10,000.

“That’s the calibre of person who takes part in the tour,” he said. “Nine of the riders this year have ridden in every Tour de Cure and 36 of them have done one, two or three rides.

“That’s a great lot of experience they bring to the rest of the riders in this type of event.”

Channel Seven Sunrise presenter Mark Beretta has been along for the ride and confessed that yesterday afternoon at around 4pm after a day in the saddle, the sight of Grafton on the horizon was a welcome one.

“It was a great ride down the range, but the rolling hills between there and Grafton added to the amount of climbing in the ride,” he said.

“We’ve climbed 9km in total over the ride, which has really taken it out of our legs.”

There was some compensation from all that altitude yesterday, with riders reaching speeds of close to 70kmh as they descended.

Mr Beretta’s recovery last night included a quick dip in the pool at The Quality Inn at Grafton, followed by a massage.

“The real trick about these sorts of events is to eat and drink like there’s no tomorrow,” he said.

This morning Mr Beretta will have to wake up bright and bushy-tailed for the breakfast to be held in the Shoppingworld car park.

“During the morning we will do eight crosses to the Sunrise program,” he said.

“Everywhere we’ve been the turnout has been fantastic.

“This morning at Glen Innes we had a fantastic crowd of people making it a really colourful event.

“I really hope everyone in Grafton can get down to see us and make it another really special occasion.”

The breakfast begins at 7am this morning. After 8.30am the group breaks into three peletons and heads to Byron Bay on stage 7 of their 10-day ride. The ride will finish in Mooloolaba on Sunday.

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