Ballarat streets to fill with cyclists: shops get ready for an economic boost

A BUSTLING, cafe-like atmosphere is set to fill Sturt Street and Buninyong for this week’s Cycling Australia Road National Championships’ key events.

The championships are set to boost Ballarat’s trade by about $3 million.

Golden City Hotel, situated right on the start/finish line, has already taken extra bookings for footpath tables, right in the thick of the criterium action on Thursday evening.

Cycling Australia will also set up its host function and media hub at the hotel but Golden City Hotel owner Simon Coghlan said the liveliness on Sturt Street pavements was most terrific.

“It’s not often Sturt Street gets treated as a boulevard with islands in the middle of the street really activated,” Mr Coghlan said.

“The championships bring a lot of people to Ballarat and might bring future income – these sorts of events bring a lot of people to town.”

Commerce Ballarat executive officer Jodie Gillett said restaurants, cafes and hotels generally reaped best from the championships’ festival-like crowds.

Ms Gillett said some retailers took an immediate hit during the championships due to road closures but that being open gave a welcoming vibe about the city for cyclists, support crews, visitors and media arriving in town early in the week.

“Commerce Ballarat is fully behind the championships because we believe that over a period of time most businesses gain benefits,” Ms Gillett said.

“We encourage businesses to be aware that a lot of people are in town and could look to Ballarat as a potential holiday destination in the future.

“There is a great economic spike.”

Garlor Fashions owner Carmel Halsall, deep in the criterium action on Sturt Street, said retail could be fickle at the best of times and it was all about persistence.

During last year’s championships, Ms Halsall said trade might have been slow on race day but the days leading into the championships and post-race day drew lots of out-of-towners to her shop. Often customers came back each year.

“Street closures may not be ideal for trading but the championships are good for Ballarat,” Ms Halsall said.

“You have to be here good days and bad days – if you put a barrier up, people will not come in.

“It’s a good thing for Ballarat traders to welcome people and give them a good feeling about the town, so they want to come back and visit later.

“Even though the streets are closed off, we’re open and most shops in our block are too and even if it’s quiet, we get a rare chance to watch the bikes fly past as we work.”

Cycling Australia Road National Championships start on Wednesday with time trials about Lake Wendouree. 

Sturt Street will host the criteriums into Thursday evening and the championships will move to road races in Buninyong on Saturday and Sunday.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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