The future of track cycling as a spectator sport may be at thecrossroads given the light turnout at the Australian Championships atAdelaide's Superdrome.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

The future of track cycling as a spectator sport may be at the
crossroads given the poor turnout at the Australian Championships at
Adelaide's Superdrome.

While there is lots of enthusiasm by those attending, I couldn't help but notice the empty
seats that filled the arena during the six-day carnival for an event
which highlights the best talent this country has to offer in the
velodrome.

Although Australia's track scene is currently going
through a generational change following its failure to produce medals
at the last Olympics, I would have thought the appearance of our
cycling queen Anna Meares would have been enough to entice more numbers.

Apparently not.

I'm
starting to wonder whether sitting in a velodrome is such an attractive
proposition for paying customers in an era when fans are being treated
to a variety of choice from cycling's other disciplines.

Adelaide's
Superdrome cannot be questioned as a top class venue, its location is
no more than 15 minutes from the city centre and within reach of most
parts of the suburban areas - so where were the fans?

Maybe the
timing of the nationals is a source of concern, particularly this year
as it was held just eight days after the final stage of the Tour Down
Under where a record crowd of 144,000 were witness to some of the
world's best pro-riders.

Don't get me wrong - track cycling can
provide an enormous amount of entertainment - at times more
entertainment than the odd stage of the Tour de France, for example.

But
as Australians are bombarded by the big European stage races and
one-day Classics by way of live television and internet streaming,
(which will only improve with every passing year), is the regular visit
to the track going to be a thing of the past?

The Olympics track
cycling programme holds our attention every four years, but I reckon
the time gap between Games is far too long.

Can you remember
what you were doing when we cheered on the likes of Brett Aitken, Scott
McGrory Ryan Bayley, Anna Meares, Graeme Brown and Stuart O'Grady (to
name a few) as they chased elusive gold at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004?

Sadly,
apart from the Olympics it seems there's little else that grabs the
imagination of the track events for cycling's demanding public.

Even
the World Championships held exotic locations such as Spain, France and
Denmark in recent years has struggled to fill stands to capacity.

Perhaps
marketing and presentation of track events must be reviewed by the UCI
and Cycling Australia in order to bring fans back to the track.

It's not to say that track cycling is dead and buried.

Just
look at the events of the Revolution series in Melbourne - with a
little foresight and vision it's a glowing endorsement that stands can
be filled at track events with the correct promotional tools.

Maybe setting up a TAB agency on location with bars and TV screens may be the way to go for the future.

Adelaide is "the centre of the cycling universe" during the Tour Down Under.

I
think basing the nationals in Adelaide during the TDU and running the
track finals at night to give the fans something to do in the evenings
would bring an even bigger cycling festival feel to the week.

It
would be a chance for organisers to make the most of the captive market
that has travelled to South Australia from all parts of the country and
the world.

Australia's track cycling history dates back to the
days when Penny Farthings were featured in carnivals at venues such as
the SCG and MCG, where up to 50,000 people packed the grandstands to watch
an exciting new form of sports entertainment.

But as we enter an
era when youngsters are inspired by Tour de France heroes and lure of
the big bucks which pro-cycling has to offer in Europe and North
America, I dare say it might be case of the times they are-a-changin'.