Ballarat will host the National Road Championships for another three years.
Cycling Australia announced on Thursday that Ballarat would continue to host the event until 2020 which would see it through to its 14th year of welcoming the nation’s best cyclists.
There has been much conjecture about the course and the unique aspects of it.
There is no doubting the course proves difficult for cyclists and it has produced a range of winners over the past decade, but Ballarat cyclist Pat Shaw believes this is a good thing and is rapt to see the event remain in Mt Buninyong.
“It does produce different winners. We’ve seen time-trialists, we’ve seen climbers, we’ve seen sprinters win this race. What the overwhelming opinion of riders is that it’s a challenge,” Shaw said.
“It’s a national championship, it should be a challenge. And what you know is if you finish this championship in the front group of riders, you can be extremely happy and ready for a successful season.
“There’s one thing that’s certain and that’s that Mt Buninyong will always be part of this race and I think that’s important.”
Shaw said it was crucial to further improve the event. He said the community and business involvement had grown in the past few years, but he said the challenge was now to take the event from good to great.
It’s a national championship, it should be a challenge.Ballarat cyclist Pat Shaw
“It’s now our turn to make this event brilliant, it can’t just be good it needs to be brilliant. We’ve been given three years and we need to make it that good that there’s no question where it is for its entire future.”
Cycling Australia chairman Steve Bracks weighed into the debate and felt the course had proved a success over 11 years.
He said while there may be minor changes to the course, it would largely stay the same and no matter what the course, there would always be differing opinions among cyclists.
“There may be some change in the track and where it is in Mt Buninyong, but it will be largely similar to where it is,” Bracks said.
“You’ll always get different views, some cyclists want steeper hills for longer periods, some want the hills to be intermittent – it depends on the cyclist really. In any event, it’s a level playing field, all the cyclists have to tackle the same track.
“It’s a great event for the nation, but it’s great to have it here in Ballarat.”
The Road Nationals is also set to be increased to a five-day event – up from four.
While there is a push to have the women’s race televised.
Bracks said Cycling Australia was working towards that outcome and expected it to happen within the three-year period – which would provide even more exposure for the region and cyclists.
“The ambition is over the next three years is that we will have that televised...that’s more exposure for cyclists, more exposure for the national event and more exposure for Ballarat.”