When little yellow signs appeared on roads around Robertson on Monday, for many residents it was the first they knew of the interruption that the L'Etape Australia cycling race is expected to bring to the region in less than a month.
The race on Saturday, March 20, will see both the Illawarra Highway (Hoddle Street) and Jamberoo Mountain Road closed for most of the day, with parts of Moss Vale and Sheepwash Roads affected as well.
The event was originally planned for November 2020, but was rescheduled in August due to COVID-19.
But while residents have no beef with the race itself, they say there has clearly been a breakdown in communication with the community.
"We are supportive of the event, however not the way it's been handled and communicated, with not much consideration for locals who require access to their properties," said Nicole Feggans, from Jamberoo Mountain Farm, who will lose a whole day of egg deliveries from her business.
But it's not just the loss of income that is concerning her. She has her 40th birthday party that night - with guests, musicians and a marquee, booked well in advance, all supposed to arrive around midday - and felt blindsided by the news of road closures.
"No one was notified," she said.
"I'm on Jamberoo Mountain Road and everyone I know here had no notification.
"People could have planned for this a bit better if we'd been told - had I known I would have pushed the party back a week."
Ms Feggans said she only found out about the event a week ago through word of mouth, and immediately contacted L'Etape Australia.
"I have an email saying it will be okay - we've pushed back our guests' arrival to 4pm as we've been told they should be able to come through by then but there's nothing firm," she said.
Kaity Sutherland, wedding and events manager at the Robertson Hotel, agrees that communication has been inadequate.
With a wedding booked for that evening and guests due to check in during the day, she said she has spent several anxious weeks trying to get answers.
"The race was due to happen last November, and at the time they advised us; it was postponed to covid but this time around no one from the organisation let us know and I just stumbled across it online," said Ms Sutherland.
"The whole of Illawarra Highway is supposed to be closed from 7am-3.30pm which basically rules out entire day.
"I immediately contacted the organisation but had to chase them for three or four weeks.
"I sent a few emails, one of which I requested their insurance details in case we had to postpone someone's wedding, and was just told they were working on it."
She said she eventually had a conversation by phone with someone during the past week, where they agreed to set up a contraflow through Robertson (between Caalong Street and The Old Road), which will allow for access to the hotel.
There will also be a contraflow further west of Robertson, between Church Street and Sheepwash Road.
Lateral Events (who are organising the race) head of sport Florent Malézieux admitted that the planning hadn't been "as smooth as in other years".
"This is our first time in this region and we're learning," he said, adding that COVID-19 had hampered their usual practice of running community engagement events to spread the word.
He said they had started talking to state and local authorities in 2019, and that the event was approved by the Wingecarribee Shire Council Traffic Committee in late November 2020 and then by the council on December 9.
"We held two of these meetings online instead," Mr Malézieux said.
"Then in October we contracted Australia Post to do a letterbox drop.
"This didn't deliver the results we expected - we got no report on who had got the leaflets."
He said a new letterbox drop is being planned for the coming days.
"This will be conducted by a private company who will provide us with GPS tracking of where they are distributed," he said.
He said that L'Etape constantly liaised with stakeholders and he expected community engagement officers from the three involved councils to "reach out to people in the community."
But Nicole Feggans believes the fault lies at least partly with the NSW Government for approving the event in the first place.
"State roads gave them (L'Etape) responsibility for everything, like marshalling," she said.
"They've handed over the reins to a private company and they've stuffed it up."
And Kaity Sutherland believes there's no upside to the event for the region.
"Personally I can't understand why anyone would agree to it," she said.
"We get none of the financial benefit of the event - it's Kiama that will have people staying over and buying food and so on.
"While I don't think it's a bad event, it's putting a huge number of people out.
"We have some staff who live in Robertson who won't be able to get to work by car, there will be delays for suppliers and guests, and we will lose income all day at the cafe as we won't have any passing traffic."
Mr Malézieux said that residents and businesses in the area are invited to contact L'Etape Australia and ask questions.
"We released the road closure map on January 28, and this generated a lot of incoming calls and emails," he said.
"We want to come back to them with a solution and accommodate them where we can."
He added that emergency services won't be impacted by the event and if necessary Tripe 0 will liaise with L'Etape for the safest and quickest routes.
Detailed information about road closures can be found here.
For further information, interested parties are invited to joint the L'Etape Australia Local Community Group on Facebook.