Australian Road Nationals expand to include U19, paracycling and community events

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The Australian Road Nationals carnival will expand in 2018 with the addition of U19 and paracycling races, and the introduction of several community-focused events.

The carnival will remain as a Wednesday to Sunday event, held in the first week of January, but the Friday will no longer be a rest day and there’ll be more racing each day than in previous years.

Cycling Australia’s general manager of sport, Kipp Kaufmann, told CyclingTips that there are two driving forces behind the expansion of the “Road Nats”.

“One, expanding the program so that we include more of those UCI events that are within the international pathway, and [two], creating something that more people can participate in,” Kaufmann said. “It’s always been a really great event for that top elite echelon and people have been great to be spectators and be involved where they can be, but it’s about expanding that and making it more of an event rather than a race.”

The criterium championships will be held on the Wednesday as normal, but will start from midday rather than late afternoon. The day will begin with U19 men’s and women’s races, continue with a paracycling classification event, before getting to the U23 men’s race. A community event on the closed roads of the Ballarat city circuit will follow.

“That community criterium, will be sort of like a festival where everyone can get on the bike, ride around, feel the nice closed road in the middle of the city that you rarely get to ride on in that type of environment,” Kaufmann explained. “Then everyone’s there afterwards and they’ve been able to experience the circuit.”

There’ll also be a National Team Relay, an event that comes across from the world of MTB.

“There’s a team relay in mountain bike where people do a certain number of laps … and you tag off to your next team member,” Kaufmann said. “So you’ll have a relay that is based on the crit course and hopefully this will grow over the years.

Wednesday’s proceedings will conclude under lights with the elite & U23 women’s criterium (raced together) and the elite men’s criterium.

The time trials, meanwhile, will be spread over two days of competition — Thursday and Friday. The paracyclists and U19s will take to the course on Thursday while the U23 men, elite & U23 women, and elite men will follow on Friday.

Friday will also play host to a new club teams time trial, which will be raced by teams of three or four, depending on the age group.

As usual, the road race titles will be contested over the weekend. The U19s will take to the course on Saturday, as will the U23 men. Saturday will also feature a “Family Festival” which will include a gran fondo and cyclocross event for junior riders.

The Road Nationals carnival will conclude on Sunday with the elite & U23 women’s road race, the elite men’s road race, and a “recreational community ride”. The timing and format of the community ride is yet to be confirmed.

The 2018 Australian Road Nationals is the first in a three-year deal with the City of Ballarat which will see the championships stay in the Victorian city until 2020. Cycling Australia is currently reviewing the road race course and an announcement along these lines is expected in the next fortnight.

The 2018 Australian Road Nationals will be held from January 3-7.

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