Crowds were bigger than expected at this year's Cycling Australia Road National Championships, even with horror conditions on Friday.
Organisers see this as proof the new time trial course, already a hit with riders, was the right choice to make.
Cycling Australia's sports general manager Kipp Kaufmann said people still turned out in the rain and cold on Friday night to watch the criteriums, while the community participation events have continued to grow.
"In our initial estimates, we'd say there was a total number of about 20,000 people throughout the event, which is on par with previous years, but also takes note of the drop on Friday," he said.
"There were almost 600 people in the Gran Fondo, and about 100 people came out for the coffee ride with Matt Keenan (on Friday morning)."
The numbers were also up for entrants in the para-cycling categories, including in new events for cyclists with an intellectual impairment.
Sport Inclusion Australia's Victorian project manager Michael Thomson said it was a significant step.
"It just ran so smoothly, you'd think they'd been looking after the athletes for a long time," he said.
"It was fantastic - just another event, they did everything like every other athlete, presentations, interviews, the Australian jersey to wear for 12 months.
"It's a simple thing that a lot of sports don't achieve."
There's still plenty of room for improvement, Mr Kaufmann said, though the new events were promising.
Part of the strategy is adding more community engagement activities, like the expanding Buninyong community festival, foot race, and coffee ride, as well as development activities for people involved in competitive cycling, like courses and conferences.
The new deal signed for the next three years, keeping the RoadNats event in Ballarat, points to adding the Victorian Junior and Masters Criterium Championships, a social program of events including community rides and business competitions, and a National Development Conference for cycling coaches and officials
"We can't take our eye off increasing and always improving - that's what we're already thinking, how do we continue to improve and get more people travelling to Ballarat," Mr Kaufmann said.
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"It's now the biggest cycling race in the country, certainly by participants, and we want people to stay for longer."
This could include potentially changing up the road race course around Mount Buninyong, he added.
"We're engaging with council and stakeholders about what that might look like - we're always thinking about it," he said.
"There's nothing off the table, we want to keep the event fresh and exciting."
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