Image: VeloShotz
  • Faz

    I really hope people like Angus are consulted in the review of CA’s NRS. I agree a lot with what he has to say here.

  • Cam

    Interesting article and some good suggestions. The issue of media coverage, particularly TV broadcasts is always portrayed as the silver bullet for sports, but in my experience in motor sport this is not always the case. TV networks will not broadcast anything unless it is commercially viable, whether through advertising revenue or by the sport paying for it’s own coverage. I don’t see that the NRS would be bringing in significant advertising revenue for the broadcasters, in which case someone else has to pay, the teams (as was the case in motor sport) or CA. Ultimately this would make racing even more unattainable for most teams.

    • It’s worth noting that highlights from each NRS race are already on the Nine Network and Fox Sports the Sunday after each race. Cycling Australia is keen for the highlights to be shown at a better time and live coverage is another issue entirely.

      • Cam

        True Matt and I don’t have the answer, but I wonder how this is paid for?

        • Faz

          Subaru sponsorship

    • Adrian

      indeed. Basketball in Australia was once prime time. It didn’t stop the sport fading in popularity. (And it went prime time after it had become more popular with larger stadiums being filled.) Footy is number 1 in southern Australia because it is our most popular sport. That is why it’s broadcast rights are worth a billion dollars, and why it’s on TV. In nearly every sport popularity comes first, TV second…

  • Callum Dwyer

    Not a bad idea. Promotion/relegation race can be one of most exciting parts of European football.

  • Eleri

    Thanks Angus. As you say, there are two levels in the NRS and it’s really hard for smaller, development teams to be in the competition.

    We want to give our younger riders experience and they do OK in club level racing. But the NRS is a whole new level above that and there’s no easy step up when the full-time riders set the pace in the a first day ITT and some of our guys just miss the cut because it’s set as a % of the winner. Not only is it demoralising, but it’s a lot of money expended by them and us on entry fees and getting to the race. And then they don’t get to race after the first day.

    I think your idea of NRS A and B is definitely worth exploring.

  • Derek Maher

    Its always a blow to see races fold and its hard to replace them.
    Getting sponsership is very hard work on its own without a load of extra restrictions being added to the race organisers efforts.
    Cat A and B Teams may well work if you can get the rider numbers.
    Also lets face it any race with a decent length of circuit or a point to point stage race is going to need some sort of on screen coverage for the public so they will not fall asleep or drift away while the racing is out in the countryside.
    Of course we could always take a leaf from the horse racing book and handicap riders according to their past results and form.
    Perhaps the NRS bosses could invest in a large viewing screen and camera,s which could be brought to each of their designated races so the race action gets to the spectators.The race could be recorded at the same time for possible TV network sports shows.
    Anyway best of luck to Australian cycle racing.

  • jamie

    One massive problem with this theory. ….from a race organisers perspective, one of the biggest cost outlays is road closures. This can literally cost $30,000-$50,000 or more. If they had to add a 3rd race to include the Cat B race. This cost would increase dramatically. AND the RMS or police would most likely cancel the approval as the road has to stay closed for too long. Road closures are by far one of the biggest hurdles for organizers. I feel as much as this sounds great. It wouldn’t be possible sadly.

  • Rohan Christmas

    For those NRS riders out there looking to fill a gap in their race calendar as a result of the Tour of the Murray being cancelled you may want to consider doing the John Woodman Memorial Wagga to Albury Cycling Classic which is on Sunday 26th of July 2015.

    The Wagga to Albury remains of one a select few city to city handicap races to remain on the open calendar.

    The list of winners and fastest time getters reads like a who’s who of cycling, including Olympic gold medallists Brett Aitken and Dean Woods, BMX World Champion Leigh Egan, Tour de France rider Jay Sweet, Vuelta stage winner Michael Mathews, and Melbourne to Warrnambool winners Rhys Pollock and Tim Decker.

  • Kieran Degan

    I’m pretty ignorant about the NRS. Can someone tell me how often a rider currently races. Are they all paid or only some? What is the race schedule and how do the riders juggle careers around it? Sorry if these are dumb quesitons.

    • Not dumb questions at all Kieran. It’s my understanding that only a small percentage of riders in the NRS are getting paid – most riders on the bigger teams will be getting something but on the smaller teams, as Angus writes, the riders are racing for the love of it, and paying their way more often that not.

      Here’s a link to the NRS schedule ( Some riders also compete in state series events (e.g. VRS races in Victoria like the Baw Baw Classic, say) and club races, and the bigger NRS teams also compete overseas (e.g. Avanti and Budget Forklifts).

      Most riders in the NRS will either be working part-time or even full-time, or studying alongside their racing which, as you can imagine, perpetuates the divide between the big teams (with riders that are paid to race/train) and the small teams (with riders that fit riding in where they can).

  • Henry

    @jamie is right about the cost of road closures making the hub of this suggestion unsustainable. I guess this is why (as Verita mentioned in her report from the US) they race so many crits as part of the US Road Series? Maybe that’s the answer – more crits? But than only suits certain riders and doesn’t really develop riders for Europe. Be good if CA worked with other states to develop a series similar to the VRS for those emerging riders?

    • Nath

      A crit needn’t be a simple four turn, pancake flat sprinter’s paradise. As long as it is a closed circuit and has great viewing opportunities then we could see some great crits on slightly longer (5km?) courses with some challenging gradients. It will never be the same as a GT stage or classic, but it could definitely give a chance to the climbers. I would love to see CA coordinate (not organise) a 5 – 10 race crit series …. include the bay crits etc, but add a few more for good measure and make it a real spectacle over say 8 weekends of racing.

      • Kyle

        I think the American model is pretty good. They have made it a spectacle and exciting. Think Tulsa Tough last weekend. It’s more like a festival.

        Showing it on TV is only going to attract people who are already interested and lets face it it’s pretty damn boring TV most of the time. Building an event which attracts people outside of cycling to see what its all about is the key.

        – Snappy race names that will catch imagination and attention (Tour of the…blah blah BORING!)

        – Advertising and information for mainstream people (you’d hardly know the tour de perth was on for example unless you went LOOKING for the information).
        – Side events and entertainment. You could even try and piggyback other existing public events?!
        – More criterium or kermesse racing so spectators can be involved for more than 30 seconds.

        Easier said than done I’m sure but clearly the way things are done isn’t working.

        • Rohan Christmas

          More crits didn’t do the Tour of the Murray any good.

          • disqus_svFInAAQWU

            Murray is flat and boring in itself though. Crits like ToSW in the VRS – that was a more exciting race to be a part of/watch.

            • Rohan Christmas

              Crits can be pretty good to watch as a spectator but when watching a TV they are far less interesting than watching a stage.

  • Andrew McCosker

    So, the cost of road closures is too high. Knowing some of the costs i certainly can’t argue with that. But perhaps there is a question as to why the costs are so high? Not so long ago the costs were much less, why has the price gone up so quickly?
    Here we have identified a problem, now we need to find a solution. Many things can drive these prices up, cost of wages, insurance, running costs etc. But if costs have gone up much much more than the actual running costs to close roads, could one suggest that these prices are not appropriate and should be investigated by an third party?
    When talking to some event organisers i have heard that the police/councils just keep upping the price as they either don’t want to do the closures or just don’t want the event. If this is actually true i find this totally unacceptable from government bodies. But until some actual investigation takes we are all just stating hearsay, as i have here and realistically that kind of talk is good to get an idea going and for nothing else.

    If via this review problems such as above can be identified and potential solutions actioned (not just noted) we might be in for a change for the good and changes that could flow to all levels of racing.

    Last thing we need is a ‘lets change the world’ attitude via a big bang, which as many people will know is rarely the best option in the world of change.
    So remember, before you come up with all the problems, think of a few solutions to go with them.

  • Chris Lee

    Got through your first two paragraphs. Otherwise, TLDR. Basic gist is, there is a series for Phoenix, it’s called the VRS, and even then there is A through D grade in the VRS. Trying to carve out a B grade version of NRS is just like saying the AFL should have AFL A and AFL B as opposed to the AFL and the VFL.

    As it stands right now there is no barrier to entry to the NRS, get some jerseys, pay a small fee and off you go. Having a winge about it “being very hard for small teams to compete” is just overestimating your abilities and being out of your depth. It isn’t the role of CA to carve out a friendly niche for you.

    • Robert Merkel

      If you do read the rest of the article, it seems that part of the problem is that in some states there is no equivalent of the VRS, so it’s straight from club racing to NRS.

      Personally, I’d suggest that filling out the state-level racing calendar is a better way of solving this problem than a second-division NRS.

    • Lance O’Grady

      Maybe I could assist the boys at Phoenix……just the once of course!

  • Andy

    I agree with Cam. One big problem we have in Australia is the drive to AFL-ize every sport by getting (or more likely attempting to get) media sponsorship – but inevitably that also increases the costs… often by more than the media sponsorship will cover, when and if the deal ever closes. At the moment the NRS media deal is a really just a video package of each race that plays at odd times on SBS (not even sure if SBS pay). However, putting up the fancy finish line barriers and signage, shooting and editing the video package etc eat up more money than SBS pays. If there isn’t money to professionalise the sport perhaps we are better bringing the overhead costs down a notch rather than cancelling races because they aren’t financially viable for everyone who needs a take a cut (eg. the race promoter, traffic contractors and cops, the state body, CA, series sponsor, and eventually team sponsors). This doesn’t mean that the quality of racing has to suffer – face it, if people had contracts to race OS, most probably would be.

  • Paolo

    I don’t agree with some points at all.This whole A and B grade or category doesn’t help to develop anyone. It just gives the weaker riders some sort of ego boost because they get a result in B grade. There’s no B Grade Tour de France either. You win the damn thing or you don’t. Full stop. Developing young riders make it sound like the NRS is at a very high level and it would take development to get any result. If i look back the last few years there are U19 riders winning hard road race stages or random foreigners, doing a couple of races, winning. If you can’t get any result all year in the NRS than you just don’t have it and you should enjoy the state open races. In cycling the best always rise to the top. What do you want to develop a rider for that can’t get a result in the NRS when he’s 19 or 20? To be top ten when he’s 27? That’s worth nothing. If there should be any development of riders happening all those 45mins crits should be cancelled and the road stages should be longer. Crits should be at least 60km and road stages at least 120km. Otherwise it’s useless. Sorry, for the harsh words, but i’m sick by the softening up of the sport in the last years.

  • Ken McMillan

    The NRS series was from the outset envisaged to be the highest category of road racing in the country. Providing a platform by which the best riders in the country can compete against each other on a regular basis, thereby lifting the overall standard. The idea of a B grade series is akin to running B grade national championships. Riders, clubs and their officials are committing resources to enter teams of riders that are clearly not of the required standard, with many lining up at national races without having placed in a B grade state level race. If teams are missing the time cut after the first stage, it may be time to reassess the developmental stage the team is at . Club races are the starting point, followed by state races, then when competitive at state level the next step national events. Trying to bypass the developmental stage of state racing hurts the sport as numbers reduce at regional events threatening their viability. It damages the riders, no one is going to get any affirmation from getting sent home after a 10klm time trial and it damages the capacity of the sport to attract resources, it does not take long for team backers to realise they have wasted their money if the teams are not good enough to benefit from the opportunities provided. Some will view this as an elitist view, this is not the case it is simply a matter of providing to appropriate resources at the appropriate time. There is already development opportunities for riders , the NRS has a clear role to provide the final stage of that pathway in Australian racing, adding polish to our elite road riders
    The greatest challenge cycling faces as a sport in Australia is affordable access to public roads, The sport will continue to suffer until we can find a solution to this problem


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