News feature: July 20, 2007
Goulburn targets UCI status, Harbour bridge in 2008
The immediate future of the oldest bike race in NSW, Australia, the Goulburn to Sydney Cycle Classic, is assured for another two years with Wednesday's announcement that banking giant, the Citi Group, will be the naming rights sponsor for the 2007 event. With the funding secured, the race is now taking on big plans including UCI status and a trip over the Harbour bridge for 2008. Jane Aubrey reports from Sydney.
First held in 1902, the Goulburn to Sydney Cycle Classic has become a mainstay of the New South Wales racing calendar, and a new deal will make sure the future editions of the race will be even more prestigious. The 2007 edition, to be held on Sunday, September 23 will be dubbed the 'Goulburn to Citi' after the Citi Group stepped up to become naming sponsor of the event. The riders will take a 170km route that leaves the regional centre of Goulburn, south-west of Sydney, and heads across the Great Dividing Range to arrive on the outskirts of Australia's largest city.
Citi has signed a deal that covers the event until 2008, taking total race budget to around $85,000 per year, including in-kind and financial sponsorship. The 2007 event will be televised on delay nationally on SBS Television and will include a team's classification to be contested by the Australian teams registered with the UCI, including the Professional Continental team, Drapac Porsche, as well as Continental squads FRF Couriers-NSW Institute of Sport, and Adelaide's Savings & Loans.
The new sponsorship is a big boost for the race which was forced into a five-year hiatus from 2000 to 2004, and now its return has gone from strength to strength, with plans to take 'the Goulburn' to the next level.
"It's now up to our clubs ... to step up and challenge other states for cycling supremacy." - David Macefield, president of MCCC
The organisers of Goulburn to Citi, namely the Macarthur and Goulburn cycling clubs, are currently applying for UCI status for the event. NSW doesn't have any UCI-status road races on its calendar despite the fact that other Australian States such as South Australia and Victoria both host significant stage races such as the Tour Down Under and the Herald Sun Tour, respectively.
Significantly, organisers are looking to run the 2007 Goulburn to Citi as a test event for 2008 when it will hopefully take on a stage race format.
It is hoped that next year's event will be extended to run over an entire weekend, with a Friday prologue in Goulburn followed by a road stage on the Saturday from Goulburn that would continue with the traditional finish in Camden.
Sydney Harbour - here we come
For the final stage of the proposed 2008 event, it has been put forth that the final stage would be run from Camden to Sydney, crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge and finishing at Sydney's Town Hall.
Realistically, 'the Goulburn' may have to be moved to the first or second week in October which will in turn help to lift the profile of the event as more of Australia's top cyclists would be available to compete.
"NSW is crying out for tourism events and John O'Neill from the NSW Tourism Board says that the Goulburn covers the criteria that they're looking for," Paul Hillbrick from Macarthur Collegians Cycling Club told Cyclingnews.
Race organisers will know more following a meeting with the NSW State Government in early October.
Stephen Roberts, CEO of Citi Markets & Banking in Australia, said, "We are extremely proud to support this famous race and the charities associated with the ride."
Simon Poidevin, a director of Citi, said, "Citi has a great tradition of supporting the community and encouraging employees to get involved. This event is a great mix of sport, local communities and prominent charities. We throw down the gauntlet to the financial services industry and Australian corporates to enter a team into the charity ride."
Poidevin, who was raised and educated in Goulburn, has been a race ambassador since 2005. He was also a vital link for 'the Goulburn' securing the crucial sponsorship funds. He is well known as one of Australia's greatest rugby players, being a mainstay of the national team, the 'Wallabies', for over a decade. With rugby's connections to the city, and Poidevin's executive position with a major finance group, he was able to use his connections to benefit the race.
Further, corporate Australia is increasingly swapping golf clubs for high-end road bikes and it is hoped that around half a million dollars can be raised. The race and charity ride will follow similar routes from Goulburn through Berrima, Mittagong, Bargo, Tahmoor, Picton, Razorback and finish in Camden.
"Simon just rang me up one day and asked if I was brave," explained Sydney frame builder, Paul Hillbrick. After two successful years back on the road, Citi Group had the confidence in the race and saw a great opportunity to lift the profile of the sport and get involved in a long-running community-based event.
Guests at the Citi-hosted launch on Wednesday included Ryan Bayley, an Athens Olympics dual gold medallist; Stephen Wooldridge, an Olympic and four time world champion; UCI Vice President Ray Godkin; representatives of Cycling Australia, Cycling NSW along with leading business community representatives and media.
"The Citi sponsorship deal is a huge boost for cycling in New South Wales," David Macefield, President of the Macarthur Collegians Cycling Club, said.
"It's now up to our clubs with the support of Cycling New South Wales, the NSW Police and NSW Roads and Traffic Authority to step up and challenge other states for cycling supremacy."
"We have some of the greatest road riders in the world and we live in one of the greatest cities of world, now we need a road race to match and it's our undertaking to Citi to achieve nothing less over the next two years." Macefield said.