WATCH the space between Cycling Australia Road National Championships.
Visit Ballarat chief executive officer Noel Dempsey and Cycling Australia chief Nick Green are leading teams to build on the ‘hero event’ and create a true cycling city.
Mr Dempsey said the push is dual-pronged: building a bigger championships program with more participation; and, developing the city’s bike culture in between the elites and championship hype in town.
“We’re taking cycling as a category for something we want to play a bigger way in our tourism,” Mr Dempsey said. “...Part of this is what else can we do across the whole year: cycling infrastructure, roads, signage, tracks, trails and training camps. What other events can we showcase? Or, certified cycling cafes with appropriate bike racks and floors friendly for cleats.”
Cycling Australia is vying to expand the festival feel, event coverage and encouraging people to ride.
Mr Green said the Gran Fondo ride tended to attract more seasoned riders, but the sport’s national body was keen to promote more opportunity for all abilities and ages, like leader rides about the region. This was introduced this year in She Rides, taking women on the championship course.
Mr Green said there was potential to develop tourism rides, taking in the city’s history, culture and landscape.
Ballarat professional cyclist Pat Shaw said there was so much to offer all cyclists in the region. He was noting an increasingly diverse range of people taking up the sport.
Mr Shaw experienced racing from a fresh perspective, travelling as a race commentator last summer, and said the vibe on course felt bigger. And there was so much more scope to promote the region.
“It was a great vibe, not just at King of the Mountain, but the experience on the whole stage,” Mr Shaw said. “Ballarat came out and put on a show and it really made me step up as a commentator.
“...Also the activity on the criterium course is getting more local businesses to invest in it too. Mitchell Harris did a great job this year, they provided the champagne for the winners, and I’d like to see more of that. Smaller business can really benefit.”