Cycling boon for Ballarat region

BALLARAT is set to play a key support role to the 2010 World Road Cycling Championships in Melbourne and Geelong.Sports Minister James Merlino will make what is described as a "major announcement" under the world championships banner at Buninyong today. A media alert released yesterday stated that "in a major boost for Ballarat, the announcement will further strengthen the position of cycling in Australia and reinforce Ballarat's status as a pre-eminent cycling city."Mr Merlino will be joined by Ballarat mayor Judy Verlin and championships organising committee general manager Michael Palmer.The City of Ballarat is believed to have been lobbying to have a warm up event to the titles at Buninyong.Buninyong is the home of the Australian Open Road Cycling Championships, which are contested on what is regarded by the cycling community as a world class 10-kilometre circuit.The world road championships will be in Melbourne and Geelong from Wednesday, September 29, to Sunday, October 3, and feature road races and individual time trials for elite men and women, and under-23 men. This event is second only to the Tour de France in terms of importance and prestige in international cycling.Australia's Cadel Evans will defend his road title at the event.