MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                     

January 19, 2022


New cycling event showcases iconic Port Douglas ride


The iconic Great Barrier Reef Drive between two World Heritage areas will open exclusively to cyclists participating in the inaugural Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival on September 9-11, 2022.

Founded by Cairns event company Connect Sport Australia, the major cycling festival features timed 136km and 100km return Gran Fondo rides from Port Douglas to Palm Cove and a 48km one-way leisurely Medio Fondo ride from Palm Cove to Port Douglas.

Connect Sport Australia Managing Director Bade Stapleton said the opportunity to safely ride the spectacular Great Barrier Reef Drive while it was closed would be a highlight of the three-day event.

“The Gran Fondo field will be capped at 3000 riders to allow the Great Barrier Reef Drive to be closed for half a day on Sunday September 11, but we expect to see more than 5000 cyclists and their families arrive in Port Douglas to enjoy a holiday in conjunction with the event,” he said.

“The Festival kicks off on Saturday with The Cairns Post Criterium, a 2.2km lap circuit starting and finishing outside the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina, which will be followed by the Choo Choos Free Family Ride before the road reopens.

“Sunrise sports presenter Mark Beretta will MC the Hemingway’s Brewery sprint race under lights along the 250m Wharf Street straight while local bands play on Saturday night. A sponsors’ expo and official launch also will be among the festivities.

Assistant Minister for Tourism Industry Development Michael Healy said the Port Douglas Gran Fondo is a welcome addition on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.

“The benefits new events like this bring to towns like Port Douglas are vital in supporting the region’s economy and attracting more visitors to Queensland,” he said.

“The Queensland Government is committed to supporting events that will reunite communities, drive visitation and showcase regions on a national stage.

“I encourage visitors to stay a little longer to explore beyond the festival hub and experience the wonders of Tropical North Queensland – from the Daintree Rainforest and Indigenous cultural experiences, to the Great Barrier Reef and tropical islands, not to mention the world-class dining, incredible wildlife and surrounding national parks.”

Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr said the Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival has the potential to become the town’s annual showpiece sports event injecting more than $21 million into the region’s economy within the first three years.

“Major events like this can ensure the long-term sustainability of our local tourism industry and bring a festival atmosphere to the village for locals to enjoy,” he said.

Tourism Tropical North Queensland Chief Executive Officer Mark Olsen said the Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival would be another opportunity to showcase the destination and capitalise on the region’s reputation for world-class sporting events.

“Cyclists and their families are high-value travellers who are happy to travel from around Australia to participate in events and stay longer to experience the destination,” he said.

“The Port Douglas Gran Fondo Festival will be the perfect excuse they need to explore the world’s oldest rainforest and Great Barrier Reef.”

Registrations open today and can be made at which also has accommodation and itinerary options suitable for cyclists and their families to stay longer for a holiday.

Connect Sport is the leading charity cycling event company in Australia having managed events for various charities including the Cancer Council South Australia’s Beat Cancer Tour within the Santos Tour Down Under, UCI World Tour Event.

The 2022 Port Douglas Gran Fondo is proudly supported by Douglas Shire Council, Tourism Tropical North Queensland and the Queensland Government, through Tourism and Events Queensland, and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.