UNCERTAIN exactly what criterium racing will serve up this year, central business owners are ensuring they will be ready for anything.
For those who tap into festivities, Cycling Australia Road National Championships are the biggest trade period for the summer.
An expanded program, a 40C-plus temperature forecast and schedule change – moving Sturt Street criterium racing to Friday night, leading into Buninyong road racing – are the big factors business owners will be keenly watching.
Navajo Avanti Plus co-owner Gail Oliver has already noticed a greater influx of tourists, many foregoing a spot on the coast this Christmas, to instead stay in Ballarat. Ms Oliver said visiting customers were using Ballarat as a base to visit the wider Grampians region, stay on for cycling, then moving to Adelaide for cycling’s Tour Down Under.
The shop will once again host its annual street sale stall anticipating more foot traffic earlier in the day with the introduction of junior athletes and their families about the course from mid-morning.
Ms Oliver said the general trend was heat brought out bigger crowds watching criterium racing in the evening.
Cycling specialists across the city have been busy with repairs, despite most of the elites not rolling in until Thursday afternoon.
Bicycle Centre Ballarat owner David Tannard said an increase in individual riders, mostly likely due to added events like the fixed gear criterium and junior events, had brought in more athletes seeking parts.
Mr Tannard was unsure what criterium business would bring to his store, which moved to Lydiard Street four months ago, adding Coffee House cafe. The store former Armstrong Street location, while closer to the course, was quiet during racing. He hoped being nearer the train station might make a difference.
Outdoor tables at Europa Cafe, in the heart of action, are booked out. Europa will again sport a limited, lighter menu, including grab and go baguettes to eat on sidelines.
Cafe owner Kathryn Hotchin said sweet muffins had proved food of choice for cyclists already in town on hard training rides.
A hot Friday night is always a big night for Il Piccolo Gelato, but owner Anthony Ransome is keeping the menu simple with lots of sorbetto, to help fans combat the heat.
Sorbetto flavours on offer include: banana-kiwi, raspberry, mango, lemon, watermelon, pomegranate and dragon fruit – nothing new, Mr Ransome said, but flavours perfect for a scorching day.
The store will be an air-conditioned retreat, and Mr Ransome expects a steady flow of cyclists to call past post-race.
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