The highly anticipated routes for the Australian Road National Championships have been revealed with major changes to the road course designed to create a more open race to both domestic and international riders. The time trial will be run on completely closed roads early in the Championship week with the criterium circuit undergoing a minor location shift into the heart of Ballarat's CBD.
The decision by race organisers to hold the time trials earlier in the week will also hopefully increase the number of starters as riders will have a number of days to recover before the weekend's road races.
The traditional road race loop around Buninyong had come under criticism from a number of international riders including Mark Renshaw, Robbie McEwen and Graeme Brown for lacking variation. Matt Goss attended the launch of the Championships and offered his opinion on the route changes.
"It's a tough course at Buninyong, no doubt, but it's a course where you always get a good winner," said Goss. "The strongest guy on the day wins and the course changes for 2013 are really exciting.
"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.
Next year's course will utilise the familiar and demanding circuit with additional 27.8km laps to start each race before tackling the Buninyong loop.
The start/finish line will be in the usual location on Geelong Road before turning onto the Midland Highway, left up Mt Buninyong Road and then making a right-hand turn at the top onto Yendon Number One Road. This sends riders onto the longer loop that the elite men will tackle three times before returning onto the smaller Buninyong circuit for the final 11 laps. The total distance for the elite men's road race is increased to 195.6km.
The elite and u-23 women and u-23 men will also utilise the new course while only receiving a minor increase in distance to 107km and 137.6km respectively.
"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.
Amy's Ride will also feature on the morning of the elite men's race on Sunday. The recreational ride will offer cyclists the opportunity to ride the same course used by the professionals with options to ride 20km, 70km or 100km.
Wednesday 9 January – Time trials - Lake Wendouree, Ballarat (u-23 men, 29km), (Elite and u-23 women, 29km), (Elite men, 37km)
Thursday 10 January – Criteriums - Sturt Street Ballarat CBD (u-23 men, 33km), (Elite and u-23 women, 33km), (Elite men, 44km)
Friday 11 January – Rest day & Championship Dinner
Saturday 12 January – u-23 men’s road race, Buninyong (137.6km: 2 big circuits - 56km, 8 small circuits - 81.6km)
Saturday 12 January – Women’s road race, Buninyong (107km: 2 big circuits – 56km, 5 small circuits – 51km)
Sunday 13 January – Men’s road race, Buninyong (195.6km: 3 big circuits – 83.4km, 11 small circuits – 112.2km)
Sunday 13 January – Amy’s Ride, Buninyong (20km, 70km or 100km)