• A new grand fondo event will allow everyday riders to compare their times to Australia's best racers, like Heinrich Haussler who won the national men's road title in 2015 (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The schedule for the MARS 2016 Cycling Australia Road National Championships was announced today with racing and an inaugural Grand Fondo Championships taking place in Ballarat from January 6-10.
Cycling Central

Cycling Australia
24 Nov 2015 - 12:08 PM  UPDATED 24 Nov 2015 - 3:36 PM

The Australian championships of the Olympic year will feature an historic new schedule, headlined by the creation of a ‘Super Sunday’ line up that is set to reach the biggest broadcast audience in the event’s history.

For the first time, the schedule will showcase both the women’s and men’s road races on the same day. The winning under-23 woman will now receive an official national champion jersey too.

Women’s road championships no longer second fiddle
The MARS Cycling Australia Road National Championships have announced changes to the scheduling of the women’s road race, which will see it receive the increased exposure it deserves.

“With Rio just around the corner, we expect the cream of the crop of our Olympic and world championship stars to battle for the crown," said Cycling Australia CEO Nicholas Green OAM.

“So whether you are watching at home in your living rooms or you’re one of the tens of thousands who will line the Mt Buninyong course, you are set for a mouth-watering feast.”

Cycling Australia is excited that MARS has reconfirmed as the major event sponsor, a company that is proudly one of Ballarat’s own and enjoys the opportunity to support the local community.

The Championships kick off on Wednesday afternoon with Australia’s fastest in action in the twilight criterium on the streets of the Ballarat CBD. Buninyong will come to life on Thursday with the race of truth, the Individual Time Trial.

The iconic Mt Buninyong circuit will once again be the perfect backdrop for the weekend’s action, which begins with the inaugural MARS Australian Gran Fondo Championships on Saturday morning.

This fantastic new event will provide an opportunity for lovers of cycling to be immersed in the biggest weekend on Cycling Australia’s calendar. Amateur, age-group and recreational riders will have their chance to tackle the fully closed roads of the tough Buninyong circuit and soak up the atmosphere in the same way as the professional riders.

“We are excited about the MARS Australian Gran Fondo Championships, a superb event that will provide a tremendous opportunity for the cycling community to test themselves on one of the world’s toughest cycling courses” said Green. “And of course, tell their stories the very next day as they watch the elite fields battle it out.”

The 2016 edition marks a decade of great support from the City of Ballarat as host of the Championships, which over that time has established itself as one of Australian sport’s showcase events.

“With the City of Ballarat’s support, the Championships has been able to grow in stature every year, creating one of Australia’s most iconic sporting events,” said Green. “Our athletes and fans have embraced the event in Ballarat and this is a tremendous testament to the support and contributions of the City of Ballarat.”

Ballarat Mayor Cr Des Hudson believes the five-day event will be taken to the next level in 2016, particularly with the introduction of the inaugural Gran Fondo Championships.

“Ballarat welcomes cycling enthusiasts to our city for this prestigious national event,” said Cr Hudson. “It is a privilege to be able to offer cyclists the opportunity to ride our challenging and picturesque courses. We take this opportunity to showcase our regional city to visitors from across Australia, who will fill the town with a vibrant energy across the five days.

“Cyclists love coming to Ballarat, and we love hosting them. Each year, we see more visitors return, and with the new MARS Australian Gran Fondo Championships open event on the Saturday, we expect even more people to visit, and bring their family and friends.

“Every visitor contributes to growing and strengthening the region through their support of local business, including the City’s restaurants, cafes and attractions,” said Cr Hudson.