UPDATE, 10.40am: The Cycling Australia’s Road National Championships will remain in Ballarat until at least 2020.
Minister for Sport John Eren joined Member for Wendouree Sharon Knight and representatives from Cycling Australia today to announce the new three year deal in Ballarat this morning.
This year’s event saw more than 20,000 fans line the streets, many from interstate and overseas, and injected $4 million into the local economy.
The Road National Championships will be held from 3 – 7 January 2018.
THURSDAY MORNING: After months of speculation and fears Ballarat would lose its biggest annual elite sporting event, signs are looking good for the future of cycling in the city.
The summer week of cycling in the city has been up for grabs since the 2017 event represented an end to the contract between Cycling Australia and the City of Ballarat.
A list of dignitaries including former Ballarat boy and premier Steve Brack’s, the current chair of Cycling Australia as well as Sport Minister John Eren will visit Ballarat today for an announcement, where it is expected the future of the Cycling Road Nationals premier event will be secured.
Earlier this year Cycling Australia chief executive Nick Green announced plans to extend the event to six days, including potentially under-19 and junior championships.
A long list of cycling royalty have thrown their support behind Ballarat retaining the Road Nationals over the past 12 months, including renowned commentator Phil Liggett and multiple race winner John Trevorrow.
Just last year Liggett again voiced his support of both the Buninyong course and the Sturt course for the criteriums.
“(The nationals) have been coming here non-stop for about 11-years and I’ve watched the city grow with it,” he said in January.
“Here (Ballarat) has become the home of cycling and that’s very unusual because virtually every country except Australia always alternate the destination each year.
“If the race is on a circuit like it is here then it means the spectators are not going to see the whole world flash by in three minutes and then it’s finished.”
Trevorrow said Ballarat was a great home for the event, but said alternating every second year could be a good idea.
“It’s become a wonderful home,” he said in December.
“I just wonder whether it might have alternate years where it might change the course slightly, because it suits one style of rider and (a change would) give other really good bike riders, who can never win on here, that would give them a chance.
“Maybe on alternate years a bigger loop could get added in so maybe you didn’t climb the hill so many times or something like that.”