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Fraternity Club to put on Italian fair for Wollongong 2022


Wollongong 2022: From left, Sergio Pietrobono, Greg Field and Kane Baker at the future Italian corner. Picture: Robert Peet

When general manager of the Fraternity Club Greg Field heard that 300,000 cycling fans would descend on Wollongong for a week in September he was elated.


"Initially we were very excited, a little less excited when they showed us the map and were blocked off for eight days," he said.


The route of the bike race passes along both sides of the Fairy Meadow Club, and will be in operation for the entire week, from Saturday September 17 to Sunday 25 September.


With access for vehicles cut off between 8am and 6pm for those days, the race looked to be a logistical nightmare.


"People can get pedestrian access, but again, with our demographic it's not ideal," Mr Field said.


The issue isn't just for club visitors, staff and deliveries will also be cut off. Mr Field said a shuttle bus could be in operation to pick up staff from key parking points, and that the club was working with its suppliers to receive deliveries before 8am.


Instead of seeing this all as a tragedy, however, after discussions with race organisers, the club has decided to embrace the race.


During the Tour de France and other major cycling events, supporters from different nationalities tend to congregate on corners or bends in the route. The Dutch are known for turning bend number seven on the notorious climb up to the summit of Alpe d'Huez into the greatest party in cycling.


Mr Field said he hopes to bring a bit of that spirit and create an Italian corner on the intersection of the Princes Highway and Bourke Street.


"We're going to focus on a big festival on the Saturday and Sunday of the second week, the 24th, 25th."


For locals familiar with the club, the atmosphere will be reminiscent of Castagne Day, a festival the Fraternity Club holds each autumn to mark the chestnut season.


Mr Field said plans are in the works for a large screen for spectators to watch the race when it's not out the front, along with bars and food stalls as well as rides and games. Riders use the City Circuit loop twelve times for the elite men's race and six times for the elite women's, making each day action packed.


Wollongong 2022 CEO Stu Taggart told businesses at a webinar on in July that things will be different in the third week of September.

"The city will work and operate differently," he said.


For businesses, everyday activities such as deliveries and waste collection will need to be altered, especially for those on the routes.


"In terms of service provision, we understand that there will be a significant change to some of those everyday operations," Mr Taggart said.


Despite the headaches that are no doubt going to arise along the way, Mr Field said he's looking forward to the road cycling race coming to Wollongong.


"The bike people tell us that there's 300,000 people in town over the eight days, 60-70,000 on that second weekend. If we can pick up between two and five thousand on that weekend that's a great day for us, it's a great weekend."

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