The Victorian town of Bendigo has been announced as the 2016 Oceania Championships host with the continental titles to be decided on the weekend of March 5-6. The final event of the Oceania Tour has been held in Toowoomba for the last two years, with Lauren Kitchen (Hitec) and Taylor Gunman (Avanti) taking home the road titles in 2015 with Michael Hepburn (Orica-GreenEdge) and Katrin Garfoot (Orica-AIS) the time trial titles, but moves to Bendigo for the first time.
Riders from U19, U23 and elite categories will challenge for the Oceania titles in the road race and time trial with the full schedule racing and parcours yet to be announced.
"It is fantastic result for cycling that a Championship event of this calibre, and our great athletes, will be showcased in the region," said Cycling Australia CEO Nicholas Green. "The Championships extend the 'summer of cycling' in Australia, with the Rio 2016 Olympic Games just around the corner, it provides a great platform for our best to race on home soil in front of our great Aussie cycling fans."
The Oceania Tour also includes the 2.2 New Zealand Cycle Classic, 1.HC Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, 2.1 Jayco Herald Sun Tour and 1.2 REV Classic.
Bendigo also hosts the annual international madison, has enjoyed stages of the Herald Sun Tour in recent years and become a favourite summer training location for both Australian and international riders over the summer with a strong cycling tradition and culture.
"The Oceania Cycling Confederation is delighted that the 2016 Oceania Road Championships will be held in Bendigo, Victoria," Oceania Cycling Confederation President Tracey Gaudry said. "The Championships provides a key opportunity for athletes to gain valuable UCI points and in many events, performances may contribute towards selection for National team representation at World Championships."
The Oceania championships are likely to attract several Australian and New Zealand riders looking to earn selection for the Rio Olympic Games in August and World Championships in October while the winners are free to wear the blue and white jersey of Oceania champion for the season as Gaudry added.
"And in a progressive UCI development, the Oceania Champion is entitled to wear the Championship stripes in all competitions throughout the season alongside the Continental champions of Europe, Asia, America and Africa, raising the profile and importance of the Continental Championships in an increasingly global peloton," she added.