More than 5000 attend Road National Championships Criterium

PERFECT weather conditions drew thousands of people to the 2014 Road National Championships Criterium along Sturt Street yesterday. 

Cycling Australia said more than 5000 people came along to the annual racing event, which was up on last year. 

“We were delighted with today’s event,” the spokesman said. 

“With perfect conditions and great community engagement on Sturt Street, it was a racing success.” 

Families pulled up a patch of grass on the median strip, while others were lucky enough to nab a seat outside the bustling bars or cafes. 

Little kids, and some big kids, made the most of the free cow bells, with the crowd cheering the cyclists as they made their way past the finish line. 

Andrew Drummond and his family were dining at Europa Cafe during the elite men’s criterium event. 

“It’s great to support local events, that’s why we came along,” Mr Drummond said. 

“It’s good to have these kinds of events in Ballarat, they bring people to the town.” 

Family of three Roger, Sarah and Poppy Mills were sitting on a stool watching the race. 

“We come every year. We’re usually at GC’s (Golden City Hotel), but this year we’re closer to the track,” Mr Mills said. 

“It’s nice, you can feel the wind from the cyclists flying past.” 

The family moved from South Australia two years ago and said it was nice to be living within the Ballarat community. 

While most of the crowds congregated outside the Golden City Hotel and near the start line, others opted for the quieter end of Sturt Street. 

Ballarat resident Susie Stoud said it was better to watch the race away from the crowd. 

“This is my ideal place,” Ms Stoud said. 

“It’s really quite loud closer to the finish line, and not many people can hear the commentator from here. That’s why they are all up that end.” 

Ballarat Tourism chief executive George Sossi said the event was growing every year.

“It’s a fantastic event, we would expect the crowds to be up on last year,” Mr Sossi said. 

“From a regional perspective it sure puts Ballarat on the map.”