The Victorian Criterium Championships will headline a new cycling doubleheader in the Ballarat district in March.
Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club is packaging the titles in Victoria Park on Saturday, March 2, with the time-honoured Fred Icke road race at Creswick on Sunday, March 3.
Club president Tim Canny said this would be the first time the criterium championships had been contested in Ballarat.
He said the club had decided to apply for the event after the success of the Ballarat Cycling Carnival on the upgraded Vic Park circuit in the lead-up to last year’s national road championships.
There was no room on the calendar for the carnival this year owing to the reintroduction of the three-day Bay Crits series.
Canny said the carnival had been an outstanding success, with new road surface providing first class conditions for racing on the closed circuit.
He said the club was delighted Cycling Victoria had agreed to have the Fred Icke road race much earlier in the year to link up with the criterium.
The road race has traditionally been in mid-winter, although it did move to April last year.
Canny has no doubt coupling the two together will substantially bolster criterium numbers.
He said the Fred Icke was last year the biggest one-day event in the state, attracting 300 entries.
He says better weather earlier in the year would make it even more appealing.
Canny said riders would be reluctant to travel long distances to just compete in a criterium which lasted less than a hour.
He said the two-day program would encourage riders to make a weekend of it, with Ballarat receiving the benefits of overnight stays.
The Fred Icke Road Race will be the first of six events which make up the Victorian Road Series.
Unfortunately, for the second year in a row there will be no Melbourne to Ballarat road race and Canny says it is unlikely to be reinstated.
He said Victoria Police had made clear that running it on the Western Freeway was no long viable on safety grounds. “It is just too dangerous.”