Ballarat City Council voted to approve a $10,000 grant to a major cycling event on Wednesday night.
The Jayco Herald Sun Tour was slated to feature Tour de France winner Chris Froome as one of its competitors.
Organisers said on Wednesday it was unlikely the event would stop in Ballarat without the funding.
They also said in the grant submission it was expected the event would draw 5000 people and generate about $170,000 for Ballarat economy.
However estimated crowd numbers were described by council staff as "optimistic".
Cr Daniel Moloney said during debate the event fitted Ballarat’s aim to be a cycling city.
“We can't pretend to be a cycling city with national credibility unless we are actually looking to plot out a series of cycling events throughout the year,” he said.
“It gives a lot of synergy to the Road Nationals and publicity for an extra couple of weeks.
“Cycling has been a huge part of Ballarat's general push - we do really need to back in the applications for major events to come to our city.
“It has a committed media partner, we are not just hoping it gets out in the media.”
Council’s report on the request said the media coverage of Ballarat would be limited because the tour only passed through the city for one stage.
Cr Des Hudson said council would be making up policy on the run if the grant was approved.
“I still don't see the return ratepayers get for a $10,000 investment,” he said.
“The start of the race the next day will be some two hours away, so I don't see any overnight visitor stay either.”
Race director John Trevorrow said the crowd would be larger for the 2018 event due to the inclusion of star riders.