Cycling road race doubt

THE LONG-term future of one of Australia’s oldest one-day road races is in doubt.

Increased financial costs in relation to police escorting has seen Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club elect not to organise this year’s Melbourne to Ballarat roadrace.

Instead, Cycling Victoria and Ballarat Regional Tourism will join forces to ensure the 105th edition, scheduled for July 18, will continue as planned.

The cost of the event will almost double this year after new anti-terrorism laws dictate that police must not work alone.

The change in rules mean that numbers needed for escorting duties will be doubled, resulting in a cost increase from $8000 to around $14,000.

Cycling Victoria CEO Kipp Kaufmann hopes to confirm the running of the 2015 Melbourne to Ballarat by next week, before turning his attention towards the race’s long-term viability.

“It’s our intention that it will take place (this year),” Kaufmann said.

“We should have something over the next week that we can go forward with.

“We want to find the short term solution and then to ensure the long term viability of the race.

“The police are a criticalfactor.”

Kaufmann said that efforts would be made to lower the cost of the event, but reducing the number of escort cars from 10 (one per bunch) wasn’t a likely solution for the 100-kilometre handicap.

“Even reducing escort cars from 10 to nine would be pushing the boundary,” he said.

“Another option would be to reduce the numbers, but then you can start to compromise the integrity of the race.”

Ballarat Sebastopol board member and past Melbourne to Ballarat race director Don Stewart says the race has become “financially unviable” for the club, with traffic management also an issue.

“The Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club has been running it for the last five or six years,” he said.

“We have looked at various alternative routes but the club will definitely not be running it this year.”

The Melbourne to Ballarat is older than the prestigious Melbourne to Warrnambool, and even has cycling’s three grand tours in the Tour de France (101 editions), Giro d’Italia (98) and Vuelta a Espana (69) covered for age.

“Not a lot of events get to 100 years and it certainly sits in the most historic of the grand races in Australia,” Kaufmann said.

Kaufman said discussions hadn’t been opened in regards to the finishing point of this year’s race.

The race has finished at Kryal Castle since 2013.

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BFNL netball squad boost

Georgia Cann, captain.VERSATILE state league netballer Laura McDonald has been added to Ballarat’s interleague campaign.

McDonald played for Lake Wendouree at the weekend, making her eligible for Ballarat Football Netball League selection ahead of its AFL Victorian Country Championship battle with Bendigo at Eastern Oval on Saturday.

The Sovereigns championship division player has experience alongside fellow Sovereign Jordyn Bibby (North Ballarat City) in goals, Erin Riley (Redan) in defence and with Sovereigns Kara Hart (Lake Wendouree) and Lauren Atkinson (East Point) through the centre-court.

McDonald’s inclusion boosts Ballarat’s VNL championship division player count to four to complement a string of Regional State League and former VNL players.

Bendigo was yet to confirm its squad at the time of print, but Ballarat coach Kate McMahon had confidence her players had the depth to adapt to anything thrown at them on court.

“We’ve focused on combinations and our ability to transition from defence to offence. We have a chance to do that really well,” McMahon said.

“We’ve got a lot of versatility.

“There are good netball players in this netball team.”

Ballarat used last week’s interleague training sessions to share ideas on combinations and work on movement and patterns.

Players are moving into more intense scratch matches to test their game this week.

OPEN TEAM: Georgia Cann, captain (Sebastopol), Lauren Atkinson, Lauren Jew (East Point), Melanie Allen, Molly Boyle, Kara Hart, Laura McDonald (Lake Wendouree), Jordyn Bibby, Stacey McCartin (North Ballarat City), Emma Henry, Erin Riley (Redan)

Coach: Kate McMahon

Assistant coach: Kirsty Walsh

Team manager: Narelle Perkins

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Rooster swingman sidelined with shoulder injury

Bryce Curnow MOBILE tall Bryce Curnow will be sidelined indefinitely for a shoulder injury that cut short his five-goal display at Etihad Stadium.

The North Ballarat Roosters’ swingman will meet with a surgeon in Melbourne on Wednesday to further determine the extent of the injury.

It is a tough blow for the Selkirk Roosters ahead of their Victorian Football League road-trip to meet reigning premier Footscray at the Bulldogs notorious Whitten Oval fortress this Sunday morning.

Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald said Curnow’s height and mobility was hard for opposition to match – especially when firing like he was against Northern Blues at the weekend.

“It was nice to have a target like that. We don’t have a lot of big goalkickers at the club, let alone five goals like he did,” FitzGerald said.

Curnow’s haul included three goals in a third-quarter rampage before he was injured in a contest, midway through the final term.

The Roosters will keep watch on forward James Keeble (hamstring) and key midfield leader Lachie George (calf) this week but remain hopeful both would be cleared to face the Bulldogs.

Roosters selections this week will be shaped on country interleague this week, as well as North Melbourne’s Perth-bound squad.

FitzGerald, who mentors Ballarat Football League coach Shane Skontra, said the Roosters were actively promoting interleague duty for players in contention.

There is a strong Roosters contingent in the BFL training squad with Nick Weightman (Bungaree) and Jacobs Werts (Learmonth) pushing for selection in the Central Highlands.

Cobden onballer Brody Mahoney is a likely selection for Hampden – Mahoney was one of the Bottle Greens’ best in last year’s AFL Victoria Country Championships.

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Cannes Film Festival’s ‘high-heels only’ red carpet policy draws ire from stars

Salma Hayek demands female equality during Variety forumMore from the Cannes Film FestivalFull movies coverage

Cannes, France: After years of rumbling discontent, a rebellion against the Cannes Film Festival’s insistence that female guests must totter up the red carpet on high heels may finally be about to erupt.

Palais du Cinema door guards’ rejection of several middle-aged women invited to Sunday night’s premiere of Carol, the lesbian drama starring Cate Blanchett, created a ruckus that by Tuesday morning found even Benicio del Toro – possibly the most unequivocally masculine star on the screen – joking that he would wear high heels to his own premiere in protest.

At a press conference for Sicario, an action drama about CIA covert operations against Mexican drug cartels starring Emily Blunt as a tough, door-kicking cop, director Denis Villeneuve joked that he, along with the film’s male stars Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, should wear high heels instead of the plain black shoes required by the male dress code.

Emily Blunt, a self-confessed tomboy, was aghast when asked about the compulsory heel rule. “That’s very disappointing, just when you kind of think there are these new waves of equality,” she said. “I think that everyone should wear flats, to be honest.”

The festival’s rule on high heels has been in force since anyone can remember. I have been turned away from a screening on these grounds myself, after being openly jeered by a couple of security guards for my temerity in wearing strappy gold flats.

This year, however, the festival has made a belated run to appear more female-friendly. There are more films by women directors in the official selection than ever before; for only the second time in its history, the festival opened with a film by a woman, Emmanuelle Bercot’s Standing Tall, instead of the usual big-budget costume spectacular along the lines of Grace of Monaco or The Great Gatsby.

Men and women are in roughly equal numbers on the various juries. There are daily high-powered seminars on women and the film industry featuring speakers such as Jane Fonda, Isabelle Huppert and producers Christine Vachon and Megan Ellison.

Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman, who would have been 100 this year, is the face of the festival; her fresh, make-up free smile beams from posters on every second wall in Cannes. Of course, the great irony was that the issue should come to a head at a film about closeted lesbians in the 1950s. Sixty years later, a woman still isn’t allowed to wear comfortable shoes.

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How CEOs can use Twitter like Barack Obama and Bill Clinton

With a few taps of his iPhone’s keyboard – 140 to be exact – US president Barack Obama burst on to Twitter, attracting 5 million followers in five hours.

But the world’s most powerful man isn’t the only leader to harness the power of the social media platform.

Company chief executives have started using Twitter in droves, despite the service being launched almost a decade ago.

Late bloomers include ANZ’s Mike Smith, who joined Twitter last month, and Westpac’s Brian Hartzer, who created an account while still serving his apprenticeship as Gail Kelly’s deputy in 2012.

The proportion of chief executives from Fortune’s top 50 global companies has risen to 10 per cent in 2014 from 2 per cent the previous year, according to analysis from Australian PR agency Weber Shandwick. Good question, @billclinton. The handle comes with the house. Know anyone interested in @FLOTUS?— President Obama (@POTUS) May 18, 2015

This compares with the number of chief executives using Facebook crashing from 10 per cent to nil over the same period.

It is difficult to determine if chief executives are deserting Facebook in favour of Twitter because of the fluid nature of the Fortune list. But social media and PR expert Catriona Pollard says Twitter is regarded as a more professional platform that delivers a greater audience than Facebook.

“Facebook has never really moved out of that very personal realm. We mostly use Facebook to connect and share with our personal contacts,” Ms Pollard said.

“But Twitter has always been one those platforms where your contacts from your friends right through to your colleagues.”

At the same time, Ms Pollard said Twitter can been personally engaging, citing an exchange between Mr Obama and former US president Bill Clinton as an example.

Mr Clinton welcomed Mr Obama to Twitter, tweeting: “One question: Does that username stay with the office? #askingforafriend”, referring to the @POTUS (President of the United States) handle.

Mr Obama replied: “Good question @billclinton. The handle comes with the house. Know anyone interesting in @FLOTUS”, referring to First Lady of the United States.

“That was the perfect example of two leaders who have used social media effectively,” said Ms Pollard.

“Those two tweets highlight their personal brands and show their human intelligence and the strong leaders that they are.”

So how can company chief executives emulate the past and present leaders of the free world.

Ms Pollard gives the following advice:

Know your personal brand and voice

Ms Pollard said social media works best for chief executives, who have adopted a specific strategy and embraced the platform.

“I’ve had concerns when there isn’t any strategy in place or they haven’t really thought about what their personal brand stands for and are not actually thinking about the impact that their tweets have on their readers,” she said.

“What made [Mr Obama and Mr Clinton’s tweets] this morning so powerful was that it was very personal, very funny and witty. The more you can nurture it and use social media with your own voice, the more powerful it is going to be.”

Leave out emotion when responding to criticism

Leaders who use social media can develop emotional connections with their followers, Ms Pollard said. But it can also attract criticism and chief executives need to think carefully about how they respond to fiery tweets, she said.

“There are lots of examples of business owners that have responded in an emotional way.

“Bullying does occur on social media and criticism does occur. Whether that’s to a leader or to a business owner or an everyday person, you do need to remove the emotion when responding on social media.

“If you are getting criticism, it’s becoming a place where it’s not appropriate, then there is always the option of not responding or closing down your Twitter account.”

Know the positives outweigh the negatives

Although revealing more of yourself to the public sounds risky, Ms Pollard said chief executives who use social media effectively can neutralise criticism.

“If you are embracing change and social media, and your strategy is about having a voice, sharing your voice and using it to create two-way dialogue with people who matter to your organisation, then you can absolutely see the difference,” she said.

“You can see that people are engaged. It also stops the criticism.

“If you are a CEO in a crisis, you might choose to stay away from social media. But if you have built up a great brand voice and following on Twitter, you can use the social media platform in those situations very effectively because you have already done the ground work.”

Maintain your social profile

Ms Pollard says in past years chief executives have often told her they didn’t have the time to create a social media account. But consumer and employee needs are changing and are expecting company leaders to be more available on social media.

“They have almost been forced to recognise that they have a place, a very important place, as a leader on social media,” Ms Pollard said.

“But every social media needs to be maintained. It’s like the old fashioned thing of starting a newsletter, doing one or two and then forgetting about it.

“If you are going to do social media, particularly if you are a leader because it’s going to be a reflection on who you are and why people should follow you.

“You need to fully engage with your communications team, social media consultant or whoever is helping you, so you have that personal touch.”

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