CYCLING fans flocked to Buninyong yesterday with 23,500 enthusiasts flooding the city, all hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite cycling star.
The final attendance figure is more than a 50 per cent jump on the 15,000 who attended the Cycling Australia Road National Championships in 2013
Cycling Australia chief executive Adrian Anderson described the finish to the race as spine-tingling.
“We have seen three world-class athletes compete here in Ballarat for one of the most exciting National Championships ever seen,” he said.
“Ballarat has hosted this event brilliantly and we couldn’t be more delighted.”
The Championships have been officially secured to stay in Ballarat for next year, with price negotiations over the following two years all but ensuring it will be held in Ballarat until 2017.
Beyond that, however, there are no guarantees.
Mr Anderson said he hadn’t been part of any discussions about extending the Championships’ stay in Ballarat.
“I can say we are absolutely thrilled with how the events have unfolded this week and with how the people of Ballarat have embraced the event,” he said.
“We will certainly be looking forward to having discussion about extending it in the future.”
The city will need to continue to improve the championships each year if it is to continue hosting the event in future, according to Ballarat Regional Tourism boss George Sossi.
Even with the huge crowd that headed to Buninyong yesterday to see Simon Gerrans crowned as national road champion, Mr Sossi insisted there was a lot more work that needed to be done each year to keep the event in Ballarat.
“You can never stop, you need to somehow keep improving the race every year,” Mr Sossi said.
First on the agenda is to pursue having additional events broadcast live on national television, in addition to the blue ribbon men’s road race.
“The next stage is to start televising the other events, whether its the women’s road race or the criterium event, we really want to take that next step,” Mr Sossi said.
“We’re also starting to look at expanding the criterium, most likely with post-race entertainment.
“You go to the grand prix or the Australian Open and that’s the sort of things they have.
“We need to make it more appealing to not just the cyclists but to all sorts of people.”