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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