From January 6–10, the Federation University Road National Championships will bring Australia’s best cyclists to historic Ballarat, Buninyong, and surrounding areas as they battle for the green-and-gold national champions’ jerseys.
Here are eight good reasons why you should get along to Ballarat or tune in on SBS to see all the action.
1. The field is the best it’s been in years
After several years of COVID-impacted events, this year will be a non-pandemic-affected RoadNats, enabling the return of many of our very best riders. On the start line will be world champions, Commonwealth champions, and WorldTour pros.
Australia’s fastest sprinter, Caleb Ewan, will line up for the first time since 2019.
Tour de France stage winner Ben O’Connor, three-time road race champion Amanda Spratt, and dual Vuelta stage winner Jay Vine are among the elite riders who have confirmed their participation, while reigning champions Grace Brown, Luke Plapp, and Ruby Roseman-Gannon will also return to Ballarat.
The stacked field will also feature cobble-conquering Simon Clarke and Commonwealth Games champion Georgia Baker. Other top pros include Brodie Chapman, Alexandra Manly, Sarah Roy, Rachel Neylan and Jessica Allen, while the men’s peloton will also include the likes of Luke Durbridge, Kelland O’Brien, Chris Harper, and Chris Hamilton.
Paralympic medallists Carol Cooke, Darren Hicks, Paige Greco, David Nicholas, and Alistair Donohoe will be joined by Stuart Jones, famous for his incredible sportsmanship at Tokyo 2020. It’s a world-class cast that will thrill and delight fans.
2. You’ll see some of the best up-and-coming riders
Get to Ballarat and witness the next generation of Aussie riders on their journey to becoming world class athletes, with fans getting their first look at Australia’s young stars racing for their new professional teams.
Neo-pros Maeve Plouffe (Team DSM), Jensen Plowright (Alpecin-Deceuninck), Cameron Scott (Bahrain-Victorious), Blake Quick, Rudy Porter, Georgie Howe, Amber Pate, Alyssa Polites (all BikeExchange-Jayco), and Josie Talbot (Cofidis) will all ride in fresh 2023 colours for RoadNats.
3. You can test yourself in the closed-road Grand Fondo
The AusCycling Gran Fondo National Championship is back in 2023. This is your chance to tackle the Mt Buninyong climb head-on on closed roads.
You’ll ride five laps of the iconic Buninyong circuit, testing your legs on a challenging, but doable, 58-kilometre route.
Ride to beat your mates, ride to set your best lap time, or just ride to finish the distance.
Use the code ‘BA10’ and get $10 off your race entry.
You can enter the Gran Fondo here: https://www.roadnationals.org.au/gran-fondo
4. You’ll see history in the making
The national road race Champion is arguably the most prestigious title to be won on Australian soil, and the opportunity to win the green-and-gold jersey, take it to Europe, and showcase it to the world will be the pinnacle of many riders’ careers.
With so much at stake, expect the competition to be fierce and flat-out.
Be there to witness first-hand the joy of the winners when they realise what they’ve accomplished. Be part of the crowd that farewells the victors before they represent Australia for the next 12 months in those iconic green-and-gold bands.
5. You can ogle at expensive new bike gear
With a new season comes new equipment, and the Road Nationals might be your first chance to catch a glimpse of the new bikes, wheels, and gear that teams will be running for the season.
Many of those who’ve changed teams or signed new contracts starting on January 1 will be debuting the latest shiny bikes, clothes, and equipment from their new sponsors.
Check out what’s trending in the cycling industry: will aero, lightweight, stiffness, comfort, or something else be the next obsession?
6. You’ll soak in the atmosphere of Australia’s premier cycling event
With more than 15,000 visitors expected to attend the event, Ballarat will be abuzz over the five-day festival, and simply, there is no other race in Australia that has the crowds and atmosphere as RoadNats.
Racing begins with a bang on Friday as the fast-paced criteriums hit Sturt Street in the heart of Ballarat. The 1.1km circuit features tight corners and a tough uphill slog to the finish line, and with races scheduled all day across a range of categories, there is something for everyone.
Road races return to the iconic Buninyong circuit over the weekend, including an extended Sunday schedule with Para-cycling, Elite & Under-23 Women, and Elite Men’s categories. Watch the riders battle their way up Mt Buninyong at the hill climb live site or catch the riders as they refuel in the feed zone. Or watch the contest come to a climax right on the barriers at the start/finish line in the heart of Buninyong.
Then take Monday and Tuesday off work and witness two days of time trials around Federation University Mount Helen campus!
7. Ballarat is a true gem of country Victoria
Road Nationals gives you the chance to see the amazing sights of Ballarat, with something for everyone to enjoy. Ride the Cobb & Co coach through the diggings and try your luck panning for gold at Sovereign Hill, or head out to Ballarat Wildlife Park to meet tigers, meerkats, and adorable honey-coloured wombats. Sit down for coffee and cake at one of the many comfy cycle-friendly cafes or get the gang together and check out the hottest restaurants in town. There’s so much to discover in Ballarat.
Whether you’re here for the challenge of Mount Buninyong or seeking quality time with the kids, Ballarat is a city of winding trails and hidden delights. Enjoy a new coffee stop each morning and discover a myriad of restaurants and bars open until late.
8. The roads and trails are perfect for riding
With Ballarat hosting the RoadNats for 17 years, it’s no surprise that the city is well catered to bike riders. Bring your bike and experience some of the amazing routes Ballarat has on offer.
One of the region’s most popular routes, the coffee ride has a bit of everything for everyone with steady hills and fun descents.
Or get your mates together for the popular loop between Ballarat and Buninyong, a 100km-circuit taking in the volcanic landscapes and beautiful countryside.
Or take your gravel bike onto the Ballarat – Skipton Rail Trail to see historic bridges and beautiful nineteenth century towns all without having to compete with traffic.
For a more leisurely, family-friendly experience, check out the Ballarat Heritage Ride and see some of the city’s most important historical sites, while enjoying pleasant streetscapes.