Wheels in motion

Cycling

GRIFFITH will host its biggest ever cycling event in September when the NSW Masters Road and Criterium Championships rolls into the city.

A conservative estimate of 400 cyclists 30 years or over will compete in three events across three days.

Scenic Hill will hold two of the races, the first of which will be a road race around a 17-kilometre loop from the hill to the airport on Saturday, September 27, followed by a time trial atop the hill on Monday, September 29.

Benerembah Street which Walter Burley Griffin designed as a one-and-a-half-mile radius circle to accentuating local government will make for the ideal course for a short circuit criterium race on Sunday, September 28.

President of the Griffith Cycle Club Jason Minato compared some of Griffith's potholes to the famed cobblestones of the Paris-Roubaix cycling race in northern France, claiming course imperfections added character.

"I don't think the road course will be an issue. It's a bit rough in spots, but that adds to the character of the race," Minato said.

"Look at a race like the Paris-Roubaix where they race over cobble stones. They just fly over bumps worse than jumping over some of the gutters here it adds to the character."

With 4000 licensed cyclists registered with Cycling NSW, the masters category now dwarfs the 1000-strong elite category of cycling.

Minato said the sport was flourishing in the over 30s category, which would make this event different to when Wagga hosted it 10 to 15 years ago.

“The last time this event was held was in Goulburn and they had 700 entries over the three days.

So even if we could get 75 per cent of that number, that’s more than 520 riders who will bring family and friends.

“It is a coup for Griffith to host this event. Wagga held it around 12 years ago without much success and it hasn’t been back this side of the Blue Mountains since then.

“Master racing wasn’t very big when Wagga hosted it, but it’s grown since then.

Guys now want to race against competitors their own age and because masters are the ones with all the money, you can expect there’ll be some $20,000 bikes there.”

The Griffith Cycle Club committed months of work to enlist the support of council and sway organisers to bring the event further west than normal.

Mayor John Dal Broi was thrilled to host such a high calibre event both for the racing spectacle and the extra revenue for local businesses.

“Council has supported this event in kind, which is part of our job getting people to visit Griffith,” Cr Dal Broi said.

“It’s a state title which is great because we’re finding by bringing high profile sporting events here, including soccer, cycling, swimming and football, that it brings activity and benefit to the local economy.

“When people visit for an event such as this they’ll stay for a few nights, which will boost business such as accommodation, restaurants and cafes.”

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