WHEN renowned world cycling commentator Phil Liggett covers an event, he likes to get to know a town by bike – and to discover what makes a town tick.
Mr Liggett will sport the bright green Cycle Classic Ballarat jersey on his rides this week to show his support for next month’s event. The homegrown Cycle Classic, in its ninth year, raises 100 per cent of entry fees for Ballarat’s Fiona Elsey Cancer Research Institute.
While Mr Liggett will not be in Australia to suit up for the Classic, he wanted to help any way he could while he was about Ballarat and Buninyong for the MARS Cycling Australia Road National Championships.
FECRI fundraising and communications manager David McMahon the championships marked the Classic’s key recruiting time. McMahon said Cycling Australia’s inaugural Gran Fondo participation race was likely to create a welcome boost for Classic entries, especially with Mr Liggett’s endorsement.
“It’s really special for us at the Institute to have the support of cycling royalty,” Mr McMahon said.
“The Classic is a homegrown recreation ride (on the Buninyong nationals course) and is one of those examples of strong cycle support in this city...People can ride quality roads and feel part of the elite stuff.”
While the Gran Fondo on Saturday allows riders on the Buninyong course during nationals, under race conditions, the Classic’s focus is on a recreational ride.
Mr Liggett said cancer affected so many people across the world and he was happy to help promote both research work and exercise, especially amid an increasing obesity epidemic.
“You find people want to exercise more now in these (mass) events and are willing to pay to do events like the Fondo and Classic,” Mr Liggett said. “Cycling holidays are bigger now, too.”
The Classic raised more than $210,000 for the Institute last year and is on track to tally a $1million for cancer research 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 unlocking the riddles of cancer.
The Classic features a range of events and distance for all ages. There is still plenty of time to prepare for the February 21 event. To find out more or to enter the Cycle Classic Ballarat, visit ballaratcycleclassic.com.au.