One of Australia’s biggest cycling events, L’Etape Australia, organized by the Tour de France, has been cancelled following backlash and protests from local residents, government leaders and businesses.
At a recent public meeting, Shoalhaven government councilors unanimously agreed to support a motion to discourage the event, citing impacts on local businesses, roads, residential properties and COVID safety.
The event, already cancelled twice since 2019, was planned for 28 November from Kiama in New South Wales, with the fully closed route traveling through Berry/Shoalhaven, Kangaroo Valley, and Robertson before returning to the start.
Organiser Florent Malezieuz said he was blindsided by local government leaders and now plans to take his 3000 participant event to a new more welcoming venue, “We’ve lost confidence in investing in the Shoalhaven for a massive event like L’Etape Australia. It means we will have to go back to the drawing board and find another region more welcoming to the event.”
Shoalhaven councilor Andrew Guile said businesses were very concerned about lost sales due to the roads being completely closed for many hours during the event, “At the end of the day if you are going to shut down the local roads for a significant amount of time on any weekend day you are going to create issues. That’s lost revenue to businesses that really can’t afford that at a time when, at the moment, they’re shut down.“
Malezieuz indicated he plans to hold the event in 2022, but does not have a location or venue yet. One possible option is to hold the event as part of the 2022 UCI Road World Championships taking place in Wollongong from 18-25 September.
PHOTOS: L’Etape Australia