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Road cycling nationals could move

AAP logoAAP 5/01/2017 Roger Vaughan

Cycling Australia (CA) could be on the verge of moving the national road championships away from Ballarat.

This is the last year of the current event contract and CA is in negotiations with at least one potential event organiser outside of Victoria.

It's understood the national governing body will give serious consideration to a venue chance, potentially as soon as the next month.

Ballarat and the nearby town of Buninyong have hosted the nationals since 2002, apart from a 2005-06 spell in the Adelaide Hills before the Tour Down Under.

Moving the event to Ballarat proved a masterstroke by John Craven, who was race director for more than a decade and was largely responsible for revitalising the road nationals.

After a brief spell at coastal Portarlington, he based the Australian road race championships around a hilly 10km circuit that starts and finishes in Buninyong.

The men's road race that ends the national championships on the Sunday has attracted consistent big crowds.

The event has expanded to criteriums at Ballarat's Sturt St and a time trial, staged on Thursday on a testing out-and-back course at Buninyong.

But having the same course each year for the Australian road race championships has also attracted controversy, with sprinters arguing the Buninyong circuit is unfair for them.

High-profile riders such as Robbie McEwen, Mark Renshaw and Chloe Hosking have made annual calls for significant changes to the road race championship course so it can occasionally suit the fast finishers.

McEwen won the first Australian road race title raced at Buninyong in 2002, but he did it as a bold two-man breakaway with fellow Queenslander Nathan O'Neill.

As it stands, the road races either come down to a solo attack or a small breakaway.

CA has a big few weeks ahead, with decisions also imminent on a new president and high performance manager.

Controversial former British cycling boss Shane Sutton was on the initial shortlist for the high performance role.

While Australian cycling has become a world power, the national team again was no match for Great Britain at the Rio Olympics.

The new president will take over from Malcolm Speed and oversee CA at a crucial time for the governing body.

CA's finances remain parlous and it has struggled to capitalise on the sport's booming popularity.

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