I’m sure Cycling Australia is pleased with the outcome of yet another national championships, and they should be with another successful event hosted in Ballarat and surrounds and a host of very popular national champions crowned.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:39 PM

It's been a great event, the racing was excellent, and interesting too because we saw the Orica-GreenEDGE/AIS hegemony broken, if only for one year.

But it's not a failure by those two teams, it appears that the Australian cycling scene is broadening and deepening. Cycling Australia (CA) can thank the increasing professionalism of several men's and women's National Road Series (NRS) teams for that.

CA provided the NRS platform and teams, managers and riders stepped up, and in future the house of Orica-GreenEDGE/AIS will have to work that much harder to earn a national title.

But while there is an increasing depth and broadening on the road we're seeing a growing concentration of elite cycling events in just two states, South Australia and Victoria.

Success can lead to myopia and right now CA's eyes are fixed solely below the Aussie belt. It's like Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland do not exist, excised from their thinking.

Outside of the odd NRS event there is zero elite cycling on offer in other states. And by that I mean events which attract a share of WorldTour riders.

We can't move the Tour Down Under, really the Tour de South Australia, or the Really Down Under Tour Down Under. The Jayco Herald Sun Tour is anchored in its ancestral heartland of Victoria and the Mitchelton Bay Cycling Classic is Geelong's baby. All belong where their history say they belong. Then there is the inaugural Cadel Evans Road Race which is yet to be run. Victoria, again.

Given the fixed nature of those events and the shortfall in other states, it's well past time for CA to start moving the nationals around. Not just to the states whose names dare not be mentioned, but maybe a date change as well.

Despite its success the race is very much in danger of becoming formulaic and exclusionary because of its location, so its time to give it a shot of adrenaline.

The reasons for making the nationals more mobile are many, but three resonate. Varied courses and seasons which allow for different kinds of riders to make their mark, enhancing regional cycling development and good old fashioned Aussie egalitarianism.

New South Welshman Heinrich Haussler was a popular winner of the elite men's road race but he is the prototype rider to win on that course - a punchy rouleur with a finishing kick, just like former national champion Simon Gerrans, who did not make the race this year owing to injury.

Women's winner Peta Mullens was a similar rider in terms of tactics and finish. I think it would be great to see a sprinters' course from time to time, or even one for the serious climber.

Development and awareness of the sport in other regions is also essential. The other state federations miss out on the promotion of the sport locally. The excuses for not making that development a possibility are just that: excuses. Technical hurdles to be overcome in discussion with relevant stakeholders.

Fairness and egalitarianism is another. Many Australians are just not able to afford the trek to Victoria and South Australia to enjoy the best on offer, but could within their own home state, so it's time CA brought the race to them.

CA takes fees from cyclists all over the country, yet only two states largely benefit when it comes to these kinds of elite cycling events. They need to try harder to change that and the road nationals is that vehicle for change.

Then there is the idea of a date change. Anathema because the "Summer of Cycling" branding now appears to be a permanent article of faith among the cycling cognoscenti. It shouldn't be.

Cycling gets lost to the general sporting public in the fog of January cricket and tennis. This year you can add the Asian Cup football tournament to that. Shift the date, shift the focus.

Lee Rogers also makes an interesting point about the date change and how it relates to performance, he calls it the "Aussie conundrum" and puts it this way.

"Seriously, and not to sound denigrating, but it's not too hard to be 'the best in the world right now' when now is January – you just have to be the best Aussie and you take that mantle by default.

"Sure, there are always some non-Aussie riders who arrive for the TDU in smoking form but they are few and almost always the usual suspects, and you can be sure, apart from maybe Andre Greipel, that they won't be going great in the European mid-season.

"I'm aware that the Aussie cycling season follows in large part the Aussie weather, but might it not be time for the Australian National Road Race Champs to be held in line with the European national champs?

"To require a World Tour rider to be in top shape in January and then to try to hit those heights in May say, for the Giro, or in July for the Tour, well, there are only so many times in a year a rider can be in top top form.

"Or maybe the guy who wins the Australian nationals is in pretty good shape but not great shape? Is the competition being devalued somehow, now that so many of the national contenders are based in World Tour teams?"

As I see it, the only issue with this is having WorldTour riders commit to long mid-season travel. How many will be committed? But it is a worthy point of discussion.

If the other states and riders are happy with the status quo then so be it, but many are not.

Etixx-QuickStep's Mark Renshaw is a long-time critic and didn't even bother turning up to race the nationals. And we'll never see a rider like Chloe Hosking have a shot at a national title.

NRS sprint tyro Shannon Johnson is another who has voiced his frustrations, saying, "to race a national championship [and] always having them on the same course is like going to an all you can eat buffet and getting the same meal you always have at home".

I agree that there are positives to having a fixed location for an event, but it's low hanging organisational fruit. Not many sports do that with a national championship event because there are many valid reasons to vary the location.

It's time.