By John Kenny
The Australian Open road cycling championships will return to Ballarat, Victoria, after being run concurrently with the Tour Down Under in Adelaide for the past two years.
"There is joy throughout the cycling fraternity that the championships are returning to Ballarat," said race organiser John Craven. "People have told me that the racing on the Buninyong circuit is the closest that they have seen to European-style races in Australia."
Racing around the Buninyong circuit has been popular with crowds in the past. "In 2004 we had about 12,000 spectators on the circuit," said Craven. "The riders do 18 laps of a 10.2 kilometre circuit, so there are plenty of opportunities to see the riders on the hill and still have time to make it down to watch the finish."
Gennie Sheer of Cycling Australia said that crowd numbers were not the sole factor in the decision to grant the titles to Ballarat. "We would of course have loved tens of thousands of people to watch the race in Adelaide, but the decision was not purely based on crowd numbers. We re-tender the titles every couple of years. It's a matter of allowing all the States to have a chance to host the event."
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