RIDING fixed gear, brakeless and, or the most part fearless, we get to see a different kind of cycling tackling our Sturt Street criterium this week.
This is a track bike, on the road, in a discipline cycling magazine Gran Fondo likens to the greatest adrenaline rushes on two wheels, short of throwing yourself down a mountain.
If you are still unfamiliar with what the Cycling Australia Road National Championships are all about – this is the time to venture down to the course.
Road racing on the notorious Mount Buninyong course might be headline the action, particularly when the elites are in action electrifying the town with a Tour de France-style vibe on Sunday. Buninyong is also where the television cameras go.
But Sturt Street criteriums put you in the heart of the action the whole race – especially, if you want to sit under the trees, on the grass, in the street’s centre.
The Sturt Street slope means you can pretty much watch the whole race unfold on course, including the tight bends at either end.
A sloped course with tight corners always makes for thrilling racing and on these bikes, with no free-wheeling or brakes, will brings in a different kind of thrill on Friday.
Fixed gear criterium is a growing discipline drawing more raucous support worldwide. When it comes to criteriums, think maybe Big Bash compared to one-day cricket crowds.
This is part of what Cycling Australia and the state government promised in renewing the championships in Ballarat for what is now the second year of a three-year deal and 13th consecutive year in this city.
Bigger. Bolder. And more community participation.
A new look Cycling Australia (CA) National Road Series (NRS) is set to hit the streets of Australia in 2019 with exciting new races featured alongside some of the country’s most iconic events.— National Road Series #NRS18 (@Nat_Road_Series) December 21, 2018
READ ON: https://t.co/LsHcynVErXpic.twitter.com/WvYUdMY7pc
A fixed gear showdown, coupled with a club teams event, form a new lead-in to national criterium races to launch championship action and add to the carnival-like feel in Sturt Street.
Club criterium racing will effectively replace the criterium racing in Victoria Park on New Year’s Day. This summer, the way scheduling falls, there is enough room for the popular bay criteriums to return in Geelong and Williamstown.
Bay Crits are a fierce hit-out series for riders before nationals that is great for fans watching elites battle in Sturt Street. But now, club riders will also get to feel more involved in nationals and showcase the quality of their skill and technical proficiency on a much larger scale.
This is what nationals should be about.
It has taken a long time to build these championships in Ballarat and Buninyong and really make the nationals our own. A booming sporting appetite for cycling has encouraged UCI championship races to firm up in the nationals’ wake with Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race.
Involving more of our homegrown cyclists on course can only help boost interest, atmosphere and a sense of ownership on the home front.
Adding an extra, adrenaline-packed event to help kick off action will inject more all-round interest. Even if, just to see what on earth a pack of cyclists with no brakes on Sturt Street might serve up.
Take a look.
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