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Australia’s Road National Championships have been restructured for 2019 with the summer carnival set to run from Friday January 4 to Tuesday January 8. This represents a departure from the traditional schedule which had the Nationals start on the first Wednesday of the year and conclude that Sunday with the elite road races.
The change has been made to accommodate the return of the “Bay Crits” after a one-year hiatus. The first Wednesday of 2018 was January 3, meaning the Bay Crits would only have had two days to run before Nationals. The series was cancelled as a result. By moving the start of the Road Nationals to Friday January 4 in 2019, three days are freed up for the Bay Crits.
- Nationals will run Friday to Tuesday, with crits held on the Friday, road races Saturday and Sunday, and time trials Monday and Tuesday.
- All Nationals courses will remain the same as in 2018, including the contentious road race circuit.
- The Bay Crits return in 2019, running January 1-3.
“We’re certainly working closely with the organisers and we feel that they’re in a good spot to be returning,” Kaufmann said. “But I’m sure they’ll make announcements in the coming weeks or months as they confirm what will happen. But certainly since last year we’ve been working closely with the Bay Series organisers and have every intention of continuing to work with them to bring that event back.”
According to the new Road Nationals schedule, the 2019 event will kick off with criteriums on Friday January 4 on the traditional Sturt Street circuit in central Ballarat. Saturday will play host to road races for U19 men, U19 women, U23 men and paracyclists. Paracycling events were added to the January Road Nationals carnival in 2018, with road races held west of Ballarat near Bo Peep. In 2019, the paracycling road races will be contested on the Mt. Buninyong circuit used by the able-bodied athletes.
“With the ‘paras’ it was a great inclusion last year but one of the pieces of feedback that we had was the Bo Peep circuit was just a bit far from everything,” Kaufmann said. “So they were isolated, unlike [at] the time trial [in Buninyong] where they were fully integrated and as part of Cycling Australia’s push to continue to be a more integrated organisation.
“We have obviously moved that road race to be at Buninyong this year so again that’ll stretch that Saturday quite a bit but certainly one of the learnings we had last year was to continue that integration of the events.”
The road races conclude on the Sunday with the elite and U23 women, and the elite men. The course will remain unchanged in 2019 — riders will again use the modified Mt. Buninyong circuit that was routed through Federation Uni for the first time in 2018.
“The tweak that happened to it last year, we think that played a role in the event last year so it certainly was a well-received change,” Kaufmann said. “But we’re going to keep looking at it and certainly what we wanted to do this year [for 2019] was be into the market early, confirm some things early and add that more of a community feel to the event. Then we’ll work with all the stakeholders into the final year of the contract with Ballarat and see what other options are available.
“We certainly have already been looking at what time trial options are available, criterium options, and the road race is obviously the most contentious and difficult one but all of those are still on the table and we’ve had a great group of people that started last year to look into the course and we’ll keep consulting.”
The Road Nationals continue on Monday January 7 with individual time trials for paracyclists, U19 men and U19 women. The carnival concludes on Tuesday with time trials for the U23 women and men, and elite women and men.
Putting the elite and U23 time trials on the Tuesday is the most noteworthy aspect of the new schedule. Now falling after the road races (the time trials have traditionally been held several days before the road races), the time trials now encroach on the week leading into the Tour Down Under. With the Santos Women’s Tour starting just two days later, and the Santos Tour Down Under starting on the Sunday, there’s limited time for riders to make their way to Adelaide and get settled. As such, it seems possible that some U23 and elite riders might skip the time trial.
“There’s always that risk,” admitted Kaufmann. “Before we’ve done something we can’t see if it’ll definitely drop off but we know at least with the men there’s still several days to get over to Adelaide. It’s really tight for some of the women who will be going over. But we’ve certainly spoken to coaches and teams to get a bit of initial feedback.
“We think it will be OK but we certainly have that risk. Maybe the Sunday didn’t go well or they’re not feeling well they’ll be more more likely to not ride the time trial after that. So there is some risk but that’s why we’re trying to add some other events, have lots of exciting things going on through those days and hopefully some added people will be around to make that atmosphere and race really exciting.”
A club team time trial is expected to return to the Nationals carnival, so too the gran fondo (which was cancelled last year due to fire danger) and other community events. Several new events are set to be announced, too.
“I think what you’ll see in the upcoming weeks is our team will continue to announce added events of the week and certainly into the Monday and Tuesday,” Kaufmann said. “So there’ll be more opportunity for people to certainly continue to race as they already do but ride and participate through the weekend and spectate.
“There’s more to come over the next few weeks that’ll make it an even more exciting time period and reason to be in Ballarat.”
2019 Australian Road National Championships schedule
Friday January 4 – Ballarat
Criteriums: U19, U23, elite men & women
Saturday January 5 – Buninyong
Road races: Para, all categories
Road races: U19 men & women; U23 men
Sunday January 6 – Buninyong
Road races: U23 women, elite men & women
Monday January 7 – Buninyong
Time trials: Para, all categories
Time trials: U19 men & women
Tuesday January 8 – Buninyong
Time trials: U23 men & women, elite men & women