Ballarat will remain Australia’s home of cycling for three more years – but with a promise for a bigger, better cycling festival right here, each January.
Victorian Sports Minister John Eren, Cycling Australia chairman Steve Bracks and Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh confirmed on Thursday the Cycling Australia Road National Championships were going no-where.
It ends months of speculation, with event contract extensions unclear leading into the championships, early in the New Year.
The focus is on growing the championships, drawing on elite athletes for inspiration to promote tourism and healthier, active living in the community. Planning is already underway between City of Ballarat and Cycling Australia to develop the event as more engaging for the whole Ballarat and Buninyong communities.
Minister Eren said the state took its position as the nation’s sporting and cycling capital very seriously and that was why it was so valuable to protect the event for Ballarat, as one of the state’s most important regional centres.
“It was a very competitive event and cycling events are because we know cycling’s growing in stature and it's growing in the sense that cyclists are more enthusiastic about going to these sorts of events,” Mr Eren said. “Other states and territories want what we've got.”
The championships drew 20,000 people to Ballarat and Buninyong in January with 60 per cent of event-goers coming from out of town.
Mr Eren said it grows with a host of major Oceania track cycling championships. Austral Wheelrace and Madison championships, Cadel Great Ocean Rioad Race and the Sun Tour.
More top cyclists were competing on Victorian roads and Mr Eren said it was important to inspire and engage people of all ages and abilities to get moving on their bikes too.
“If people are fit and healthy physically, they're more fit and healthy mentally,” Mr Eren said. “Every dollar we invest in sport, we save about $4 in health and that's so important for us going forward.
“It's broadly about the event and the economic benefits of the event brings to this wonderful city, but also about the fit and healthy aspect of this event for the wider community..Watch out there will be a lot more people riding. There's more than one million cyclists in the state and we want to improve that.”
City of Ballarat will not prepare to host its 12th consecutive road nationals, and 15th championships in 17 years.
The Buninyong road race is broadcast live on television and the event as a whole, generates $4 million annually.