A typical rural scene during the Tour of the Murray River.
  • jules

    it needs more fans. the NRS is relatively invisible to average bike fans. CT doesn’t particularly cover it. what does it offer local fans that the World Tour doesn’t? the races are too vanilla – I don’t recall anything edgy like cobbled stages or 30% climbs. they ride their bikes. someone wins. “surely that’s good enough?”

    • Sam Young

      The Adelaide Tour had some gravel sections last year, and a downhill TTT on Gorge road. M2W is one of the oldest and longest one day races in the world.

      In the US, thousands of people come out to watch crits. Nothing edgy or exciting about the courses there, just riders going fast. I don’t really think the answer is to make things harder or more dangerous, it’s to make them more accessible and promote them better. From an Adelaide perspective, where hundreds of thousands turn out to watch the TDU, it’s disappointing when a few months later you’re lucky to get a dozen people standing at the top of Corkscrew Road to watch Patty Bevin go up it faster than Cadel did. Nobody (in a pretty cycling keen city) even knew the race was on.

      • Max

        Lygon St crit as the finish to the Sun Tour with tents & merchandise sales, 1000’s of people lining the streets was always popular…. next minute it disappeared.

      • Marty Tobin

        The Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley Womens NRS has a 5.9km dirt climb called ‘Strade Nero’ and have been using this climb for 4 years. This year there are including 3 more sectors of gravel to shape the race.

        • Mark Gunter

          That sounds cool Marty… I wish I could be there this year… But will be OS…

      • James Davis

        Yeah Sam I hear ya, but the marketing of the ADL Tour was completely rubbish, absolutely no-one even knew it was on, and I mean NO ONE knew, I mean jeez even putting up a FB event would have been better marketing!!!!

        • Sam Young

          It’s the same with a lot of NRS events too. I think marketing is probably the key thing that seems to be missing to be honest. The quality (at the top end of the field) is pretty high, the racing is often close and exciting (not always, but we all just watched Astana ride everyone except Contador into the ground) but nobody knows it’s happening. I liked the comments in this article on the marketing side of things: https://cyclingtips.com.au/2015/06/we-love-everything-about-the-aviva-womens-tour-and-you-will-too/ Shows how things can be done.

    • Dom

      I agree it needs more fans although edgy isn’t maybe the best approach. I would have thought tying the elite race in with local amateur events that run under the same course and infrastructure set up for the day would do wonders for encouraging grass roots cycling. Look at the South African model where the Cape Argus or the 94.7 cycle challenge have the Elite’s and then 30 000 amateurs taking it on – all sitting under one nationwide categorised system. I’m pretty sure its the fans that pay for these events in that instance.

      • Sam

        Battle on the Border is run on this model and one only needs to read the above article to understand the problems of this. Traffic management for multiple grades must (and clearly does) prove a nightmare for organisers.

        • Robert Merkel

          Yes, it’s difficult, but it can be done successfully.

          The Sam Miranda Tour of the King Valley runs a women’s NRS race concurrently with a time trial, road race, and handicap run by Cycling Victoria. There is a rolling road closure for the elite women, but the rest of the grades are on open roads (as most club racing is in Victoria).

          It’s one of the biggest and best races on the Victorian road racing calendar.

          • The race organisers are apparently pushing hard to get a men’s NRS race up as well.

            • Marty Tobin

              yes that is correct

          • Marty Tobin

            The A Grade Men’s Road Race was also run under Rolling Road Closure conditions last year. All this along with a Gran Fondo makes for an awesome weekend of racing.

    • Holby City

      This will be a real test to see if Nick Green is the right man for the job. I’m not convinced that a former rower (albeit an olympic gold medallist and national hero) is the right man but I hope I’m wrong. It’s not as if rowing is a popular mainstream sport. What credentials does he really have?

      Cycling participation levels are at an all time high but road safety has never been worse. I do not feel safe at all on Sydney roads with cars making a mockery of proximity suggestions. Cars routinely pass at 0.5 meters and honk their loud horns at you when you are doing nothing wrong. I think Cycling Australia has to promote cycling better, not just through racing but through campaigning for better safety. Road closures for races and gran fondos have to be mandatory and private promoters probably need CA’s support. It’s a joke that many amateur events in NSW don’t attract road closures. Is Cycling NSW soft?

      Agree with Jules that the racing needs to be more exciting and it would help if more races were closer to the city. It’s accepted that you avoid Jolimont and Richmond during an AFL match so why can’t more road races be held closer to home rather than woop woop. A few locals might complain about road closures but so what. Unfortunately I don’t have many ideas on where the races could be closer to cities but surely someone else does? Geelong is a great place that has already been used a bit.

      • Callum Dwyer

        I could be wrong, but I think Nick would have hire base on his professional resume not on his sporting resume.

        Road closures for small amateur events is financially unrealistic.

        • Holby City

          A real leader sees what is hard and doesn’t give up. Road closures are necessary.

          • Callum Dwyer

            Well my club races attract about 15 people. Do these races need road closures? (not a rhetorical question)

          • real talk

            Financially unrealistic and ‘hard’ are two very different things.

            I get the feeling that you’d be the same person who would complain that race entry fees increased tenfold as a result of road closures.

      • Rohan Christmas

        Full road closures would result in the immediate end of road cycling in NSW. As it is traffic control costs are forcing the end to too many races that have run for years or they are forcing course modifications which typically consist of loops that quickly become very boring or too selective. This isn’t just happening near busy cities but also on extremely quiet country roads that only see a handful of cars during an entire race. For full road closures the costs would be astronomical meaning that both massive entry numbers and massive entry fees would be required and I just don’t see that happening.

        In my view Cycling NSW number one priority should be to negotiate with the state government and RMS to make it easier and cheaper to hold bicycle races. If this doesn’t happen the sport of road cycling may have a dire future in NSW.

        And as for Cycling Australia it needs to pull its head out of the sand and see the damage that their excessive licence fees are doing to this sport. There are more people than ever riding but racing at the grass roots level is in a state of atrophy and a big reason for that is excessive licence fees. The cost doesn’t stop the keen riders but it does stop new people doing their first race, it stops riders who may like to do a couple of races a year from renewing their licences and it stops triathletes from doing the odd race. Without these people racing entry numbers can take enough of a hit that races become uneconomical.

    • GaryHunt

      I agree, more fans are needed. But fans need a reason to back a team…given few of the riders are well enough known to generate a mass following (how could they be) there needs to be a reason apart from individual personality or prowess…Across other sporting leagues it’s typically done on a regional level, eg footy and netball they go with suburb or state of origin… Or as in the car or motorbike racing scene its more the manufacturer brand (Ford vs Holden, or Suzuki vs Honda) that gets fans on board.

    • Robert Merkel

      While edgy for the sake of edgy is pointless, I reckon that the NRS does miss a trick by not having a race that includes road stages on any of Australia’s biggest climbs.

      While there is the TT stage up the tough and very beautiful Mount Wellington in Hobart, I want to see footage of the best climbers in the NRS going head to head up a really long, tough finishing climb.

      Yes, this either means Mount Wellington (or maybe Jacob’s Ladder if we’re feeling really adventurous and have the budget to hire a grader if necessary), or a race in North-East Victoria.

      Hotham is probably the most visually spectacular because of the moonscape up top, but Buller might also be a good option particularly if they go right to the top rather than just to the village. Baw Baw would be brutal but because it’s forested all the way up you wouldn’t get quite the same spectacular footage.

      • peter

        all these beautiful climbs are too far away , not many people are going to drive 4/5 hours to watch. the Dandenongs would be better . Its a joke races cant have proper rolling road closures , when I raced in Belgium more than 20 years ago all the races had rolling road closures.

        • Robert Merkel

          The Dandenongs are far too hard to get road closures on, certainly for the NRS. And the NRS races run in the middle of nowhere now. I’m just saying run *one* of those races on Australia’s most spectacular roads because the TV and the photos would be, well, a spectacle.

          • Amy’s Otway Classic (women’s NRS) is run on the Great Ocean Road on the morning of and on the same course as Amy’s Gran Fondo. Amazing course, very scenic. I was at the finish last year – I was one of five non-CA, non-team people there. Disappointing.

        • Well…

          Mt Wellington is NOT too far away from Hobart, however (5 mins by car) and iconic stages bring big names. Thanks to the timing of the sydney olympics, the ToT in 2000 saw locals clambering over rocks on the snow-lined summit watching Danny Clark, Vladimir Karpets, Robert Bartko and half the National team battle it out on the climb. Oh, and Cadel, of course…

  • Here’s another interesting quote from Nick Green: “I think at the moment my instinct is saying there’s too many races in the series.” Whether removing Murray and Gippsland from the NRS makes it compact enough for Green’s liking isn’t clear. Perhaps other races will be removed as well?

    • Stompin

      Removing races is a tough call but probably the right decision to lift all other races. We simply don’t have enough people in this country to sustain cycling in the way some of us think it should be presented. Cycling isn’t the only sport to suffer this problem.

    • Alex Hinds

      Seasons should run through summer months. Winter months are already saturated in Aus and Europe.

      • Sean

        I agree with that.

  • Marc

    This all seems very odd to me. If you want to reform the series, then that’s fine, but do the review at the end of the season, so you have your reforms in place at the start of the season. It’s a bit strange to be in the middle of the series and change things or cancel races for vague reasons like ‘the race had reached the end of its lifespan’. All of a sudden? It was put on the calendar only a few months ago, what on earth could have changed in those months?

    It seems there’s no clear view and the decisions are made in the spur of the moment. And less races in the series? They want to prepare Aussie cyclists for races abroad. The only way to do that is to have them race at a high level, as much as possible. Unfortunately there aren’t many opportunities in Australia to do so, as club racing doesn’t get you to that level and crit racing might be fun, but hasn’t got much in common with European style racing at all. So if anything, we need more races in the NRS.

    The NRS isn’t promoted properly, even though some of the races are pretty good already. Like the Melbourne to Warrnambool, the Tour of Tasmania and the Adelaide Tour. It should be better promoted. In Europe similar series have live streams of every race, are on television, have support races, kids races on the finishing circuit. In Holland the winner of a similar kind of series like the NRS is guaranteed a spot in a Pro Continental team. There’s a lot you can do to make the races more appealing.

  • David

    Maybe the review should look into the shit/inconsistent application of racing rules by the race commissaries after the debacle in toowoomba when Jack Anderson and Budget were robbed of the overall win! Come to think of it… I would’ve thought budget would have a fair bit to say about the NRS given their long support?

    • BOB

      Mate, everyone knows a dropped chain is NOT a recognised mechanical……To even think he would be given same time is ludicrous!
      Furthermore when he dropped the chain he was off the back of the front guys.
      Also look back to final stage of Tour of Murray 2014, Brenton Jones lost his chain in the last 500m, subsequently lost the tour as a result. Consistent application of rules, well done CA.

      • David

        Anderson had a jammed chain and needed a bike change – how is that not a mechanical? Besides, even if it’d only been a dropped chain, the 3km rule’s been applied before in numerous cases. If Jones had stopped last year I dare say it would’ve been applied as well (but he didn’t).

        • All these riders “dropping chains” at in opportune moments of races, and needing a bike change. Really?

          Maybe teams should employ better bike mechanics (so chains aren’t dropped) show or teach riders how to change gears (to avoid problem in first place) and finally, rather than waving hands in the air awaiting a mechanic to come rushing up and save the day, why not just get off the bike, grab the chain with your hand and pull, or use common sense, rather than whining panic ?

  • geoff.tewierik
  • Nath

    Talk of an NRS ‘Series’ is a bit of a misnomer. The series is just a list of races, and yes, an overall points tally. This is exactly the same as the world tour, but they get away with it in Europe because of the history and culture they have. If we want the NRS to be a true series it should be run and promoted as such. Sure, have individual race organisers working to a standard, but the marketing and scheduling should be controlled centrally. Build the story about each race, key squads and their riders, give something the media want’s to see, create public interest. It aint rocket science, but CA seems to expect it to just happen.

    • Speaking to Nick Green, the examples you give are exactly the sorts of things CA are looking to improve.

      • Nath

        Awesome. Lets hope they get it right. I would rather see a five race series run well then 15 races run poorly.

  • Alex Simmons

    CA are broke, and lost a lot of money initially buying and then running these events. It’s no more complicated than that.

    • Alex Hinds

      Yep ^, pretty much on the money.

    • Troy

      The whole of cycling in Aus is in a bad way. You’ve got the well documented problems of CA, MTBA is running an online petition to get support for money for programs as currently they receive no AIS or Sports Commission funding and to top all that off you’ve got BMXAustralia in a difficult place where a number of top level staff have been shed and for a discipline that is independent of CA (and has always been unlike MTB) it’s HP program has money given to CA to run BMXA’s HP program.

      The whole of cycling is in dire need of an overhaul. I really thought this was going to be achieved about 2 years ago when Graham Fredricks “stepped down” but it seems that not a lot has changed at all apart from people looking at it and saying we should do a report on what’s wrong but not knowing how to fix it or where to start.

  • Andy Logan

    The problem goes beyond NRS as well in my belief, in NSW we have races being cancelled every year and not being replaced. Kurrajong this year is going to be moved because they can’t get the police authorisation, bearing in mind they don’t even close the roads for that race and that tells you that the problem is more to do with the police not wanting these races to happen and the cost, I know compared to Victoria, police costs for NSW are silly high.

    Goulburn was cancelled for the same reason. Most years at Kurrajong you unfortunately have some local driving their car towards the bunch on the start finish straight down a very narrow road and it’s extremely dangerous, really you could do with closing the road, but no it can’t happen.

    • jules

      NSW has long excelled as the state that imposes the most stringent, OTT regulations. it’s not just bike races, it’s everything. there have been moves to change this culture by politicians but it’s very difficult as it’s an ingrained culture that outlives politicians’ terms of office.

      • bikefreek

        Agree with this one. In NSW our MTB club needs a traffic management plan and police approval to run a local club XC race in a pine forest out of town which only crosses rutted old 4WD tracks which no car could possibly use. Its a huge waste of effort by club volunteers to get these races up and running, effort which could be put to better use.

  • Callum Dwyer

    Good to see Nick Green starting get CA sorted out. Hope he does a general review of competitive cycling in Australia, just like Football Federation Australia has recently done. Competitive cycling in Australia is in need of strategic direction.

  • Scott B

    I think most people agree with what is ideal – we want more racing, safer racing, more interesting racing and better promotion. What’s stopping that is the reality that we are a fringe sport (certainly based on participation and genuine supporter base) and so we struggle to generate enough funding/sponsorship to throw at the races and administration/promotion. I’ve had it put to me that the massive growth in cycling means we are approaching mainstream but I don’t believe it. Just because someone rides, doesn’t make them a fan of cycle racing. I walk, every day if I can’t avoid it, but I don’t stay up to watch the 50km Race Walk at the Olympics. I don’t think there are any silver bullets to the funding issue, or at least I don’t have them. Some of the low hanging fruit might be to encourage more racing participation at a grass roots level (administrators could look at building relationships between local clubs and schools… I’m sure there would be some good case studies to learn from), smarter promotion of events (there are plenty of easy wins on the social media side of things) and better coordination between the states and CA (Baw Baw Classic, Blayney to Bathurst and the Adelaide NRS Tour were scheduled on the same weekend this year, and then no racing for weeks on end).
    One suggestion I have on the racing side of things is to incorporate more races that finish with a circuit. This is the norm in many countries in Europe for top level amateur racing where races will typically be 100-130km ‘in line’ (or point to point) and then the final 20-30km on a finishing circuit of 5-10km in, or close to, a town, normally with a hill to assist with creating a selection. This ticks a few boxes as it covers the racers desire to gain experience in a genuine road racing environment and the promoters desire to bring exciting racing closer to sponsors and communities. It should also mean we can reduce the number of crits in the national series. Leave these for the clubs who often don’t have a choice and summer promotions.
    Final point – I’ve just read Angus’s follow up piece and I think there is some real merit in bringing in something of a minimum standard and reducing the number of NRS teams. A 15 team series feels about right given the talent pool, with a couple of spots made available for each race for local teams and teams performing at a state level. Teams outside this level really are just making up the numbers and I question the value of experience that a rider gets hanging onto the back day in and day out. I’ve been there. I didn’t learn much. It would be better if these teams focused on state events and proved themselves there before stepping up. This would require the states to have decent racing in place though but that’s a related challenge.
    Hopefully some ideas worth looking at in there. I’m not critical of the existing admin as I think anyone who steps into these rolls has a passion for the sport and are doing the best they can. Sometimes this is the best that could be done and sometimes it isn’t. Hopefully the review will help – the critical thing is consultation with a wide group of stakeholders.

    • Callum Dwyer

      Well said Scott. I was thinking that today, niche at grass roots equals niche at the national level.

  • Sceptic

    Great piece Angus, pity you’re not CEO…
    Conducting a “review” is classic politi-speak #101 (think there’s an episode of The Hollowmen where they undertake a “review” spending ages and lots of money to avoid doing any real work or making a tough decision).

  • Luke Quinn

    Well my 2 young boys have stood out the front of our house and cheered on the riders the last two years as they left nathalia, they will be shattered that they are no longer able to. They enjoyed watching them warm up down by the creek as well.

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