It’s the climb: calling entries for Classic ride

WATCH AND LEARN: Cycle Classic Ballarat organisers hope more action on the tough Buninyong course inspires more Classic entries.
WATCH AND LEARN: Cycle Classic Ballarat organisers hope more action on the tough Buninyong course inspires more Classic entries.

INTRIGUE, and perhaps personal achievement, the inaugural Australian Gran Fondo Championships are tipped to boost entries for next month’s Cycle Classic Ballarat.

The MARS Cycling Australia Road National Championships are typically a key recruiting time for Classic entries when cycling fans were inspired to attempt conquering the notorious Buninyong course. This year’s Gran Fondo is for keen cyclists to ride the course under race conditions during nationals.

The Classic is the biggest fundraiser each year for the Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute but the Classic takes in the course purely as a participation ride.

FECRI fundraising and communications manager David McMahon said the added dimension of the Gran Fondo, coupled with elite racing in the championships, would help spur more people to take on the personal challenge of the climb.

“The (Mount Buninyong) climb is one of the most attractive parts of the road ride and this is another chance for people to have a go,” Mr McMahon said. “The Classic is very much a people’s ride, not a race. Our event is about enjoying the lovely countryside and ride, rather than riding as fast as you can.

Cycle Classic Ballarat, like FECRI, is proudly homegrown with 100 per cent of entry fees going toward FECRI research. The Classic raised more than $210,000 for the Institute last year and, set for its ninth year, is on track to reach a $1million total within a decade.

FECRI, inspired by Ballarat teenager Fiona Elsey who died from cancer in 1991, explores more effective ways to diagnose and treat cancer, like immunology, by unlock the riddles of cancer.

Mr McMahon said there was plenty of time to prepare and get involved across varying distances in the February 21 event.

Meanwhile, Gran Fondo entries are all-but-closed. The championships, featuring medals, has impressive non-elite riders, including Olympic ‘Oarsome Foursome’ rowers Nick Green (Cycling Australia’s chief executive officer) and teammate James Tomkins. 

Gran Fondo racing is open to riders aged 19 years or older with lap counts depending on age classification. The Gran Fondo is staged Saturday morning before the men’s under-23 national showdown in Buninyong. Contenders will ride under nationals race conditions and road closures on the same 10.2km circuit as the professional riders.

For more information on Cycle Classic Ballarat, visit

Or, for details on Saturday’s Australian Gran Fondo Championships, visit