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This morning I attended the Cycling Australia event which announced some new course changes for the 2013 National Championships. For the first time since the event returned to Ballarat in 2007 the course has changed to make the climbs less selective so the sprinters have a chance, but lengthened the men’s race to nearly 200km to ensure the strongest rider still wins.
The road race is being held on Saturday, Jan. 12 (women) and Sunday, Jan. 13 (men), the road races will now see the men’s, women’s and under 23 men’s fields contest a flatter 27.7 kilometre circuit before tackling the Mt Buninyong 10.2km climb which reaches 10% and usually breaks the race apart. The men will ride 3 big circuits – 83.4km, plus 11 Circuits – 112.2k for a total of 195.6km. The male U23’s will rid 2 big circuits – 56km, plus 8 circuits – 81.6k for a total of 137.6km. The Elite/U23 Women will ride 2 big circuits – 56km, plus 5 circuits – 51k for a total of 107km.
This could open the door to a different style of rider to claim the winners jersey. Someone like Matty Goss, Mark Renshaw, Chris Sutton, Michael Matthews, or even a domestic rider like Anthony Giacoppo, Luke Davison, or Will Walker could have a shot at the title. With 11 laps up Mt Buninyong, it’s still going to be extremely tough for the sprinters to hold on, but Robbie McEwen won on this course in 2005, so it can be done. GreenEDGE will have the numbers, but Sky, Rabobank (or whatever they’re now called) as well as the domestic teams like Drapac, Budget and Genesys are able to be in the form of their lives at this time of the season.
2013 ‘Road Nats’ course changes unveiled
via Cycling Australia Press Release
Three new courses were unveiled at the official launch held in Melbourne on Wednesday, with the road races now featuring an additional circuit, the time trial having a full road closure and a sensational new location, and the inclusion of Amy’s Ride Victoria to the five-day festival of cycling promising to tempt the tastebuds of thousands of cyclists and cycling fans from around Australia.
The changes have extended the men’s race to just shy of 200 kilometres, bringing the Championships in-line with other national championship distances around the world, while the reduction in climbs up the infamous Mt Buninyong opens the door to a different style of rider to claim the winners jersey.
For the first time in the Championship’s history, the time trials will be held on a fully closed course which takes in a lap of Lake Wendouree before heading along Sturt Street through the Arch of Victory and along Ballarat’s historic Avenue of Honour.
The criterium course will remain roughly the same for 2013, although the move down one block in Ballarat’s CBD will create a tougher circuit and ultimately finish, with the twilight event sure to once again attract thousands of fans to the city.
“The new section of the road race course refreshes the event for participants and spectators alike,” said Race Director, Sean Muir. “Starting the road race on a flatter circuit will allow a more even playing field and will increase the incentive for riders to ‘try their luck’ off the front to make a break and stay away.
“The time trial course promises to be a great spectacle. While keeping one eye firmly on the safety of all competitors and staff, the new course will encourage the use of the entire road thus allowing for a faster and more dynamic time trial.
“We are also very excited about bringing the time trial back to the centre of town which will no doubt create a great atmosphere,” said Muir.
2013 will be the sixth consecutive year the Ballarat region has hosted the Championships, reaffirming it’s position as the home of Australian road cycling.
The region will once again be a mecca for all cyclists and cycling fans, with a ‘Family Fun Day’ during the time trial, Fan Zones at the road race, plus live screens, race commentary, exhibitors and refreshments throughout the five days promising to create a winning atmosphere away from the on course action.
Chair of Ballarat Regional Tourism Stuart Benjamin said six years ago Ballarat embarked on an aggressive event strategy, claiming the Cycling Australia Road National Championships as our own.
“Significant infrastructure investment has gone into the race routes, protecting their reputation as the best routes in Australia.
“The Road National championships enable Ballarat to showcase its unique terrain, quality roads and cycle friendly community, while drawing big crowds of spectators and participants. It’s a great time to be in Ballarat,” Mr Benjamin said.
In addition to the racing program, 2013 will feature Amy’s Ride on the morning of Sunday 13 January, starting prior to the men’s race in Buninyong.
A recreational ride for all to get involved, Amy’s Ride offers a 20km, 70km and 100km route catering for cyclists of all ages and abilities and will carry on the tradition of bringing recreational bike riders together with the cream of the crop of Australia’s best cyclists and highlight the importance of shared road conditions with motorists.
“Amy’s Ride is a chance for participants from all cycling demographics to challenge themselves in an event that is safe as well as an opportunity to spread the shared respect message to all road users”, said AGF Patron, Simon Gillett.
“For the first time we have also invested in a technology platform that provides a fully integrated fundraising capability through social media, making it easier for all participants to help raise funds to support the safety work that we do.
“It is also fitting that an Amy’s ride be held starting in Buninyong less than 2 km from our home.
“In 2004, Amy almost stole the show on Mt Buninyong where some of her ashes were scattered, with a 110 km solo breakaway, only to be caught with five kilometres to go although still finding enough to lead out Oenone Wood for the win,” added Mr Gillett.
Also attending the launch was a number Australia’s best road cyclists including Matthew Goss, Simon Clarke, Amanda Spratt and Rachel Neylan, with the contenders quick to praise the new changes.
“It’s a tough course at Buninyong, no doubt, but it’s a course where you always get a good winner,” said Matt Goss. “The strongest guy on the day wins and the course changes for 2013 are really exciting.
“(But) this new course opens the door a little more for the sprinters so I think the 2013 race is going to be an open and exciting one,” Goss added.
Similarly, defending women’s road champion Amanda Spratt welcomed the new additions.
“I think it is a fantastic idea to change the course, it will create the opportunity for other riders to become more involved in the race, for the climbers and sprinters to use their strengths,” said Spratt who claimed a memorable victory in the 102km women’s road race in 2012.
“With the tough loops around Buninyong, it will split the race and encourage riders to make a break and you never know if someone goes early they might stay away.
“So I am excited it will be a longer course for the road race, I am used to racing longer races overseas and having the changed format, it will give more people the chance at the national title,” Spratt added.
• Wednesday 9 January Time Trial – Lake Wendouree
• Thursday 10 January Criterium – Ballarat CBD, Sturt St
• Friday 11 January REST DAY/Championship Dinner
• Saturday 12 Women’s & Under 23 Men’s Road Races – Buninyong,
• Sunday 13 Men’s Road Race; Amy’s Ride – Buninyong
Stay up to date with all the action leading up to and LIVE during the Championships:
• Twitter: @cyclingausroad Hashtag – #roadnats
• Facebook: www.facebook.com/cyclingausroad
• Website: http://roadnationals.org.au/