Challenging and spectator-friendly cycling courses that make the most of Wollongong’s best-known features have been revealed for the UCI Road World Championships in the Illawarra city next year.
- Three cycling routes through Wollongong announced
- Elite men and women will race on the same circuit for the first time in history
- The Federal Government injects $5 million in funding towards the sporting event
About 1,000 riders will take part in 11 championship events over eight days from September 18 to 25.
Organisers have unveiled three race routes and two time-trial circuits for teams and riders in the elite, under 23 and junior categories.
“One of the things that’s quite unique about Wollongong is that it’s quite a narrow city, so we had to think about how we retain north and south access on Memorial Drive,” Wollongong 2022 CEO Stu Taggart said.
Challenging courses unveiled
The Wollongong City Circuit will feature a technical route through the suburbs of Gwynneville, Mount Ousley, Mount Pleasant, Fairy Meadow and North Wollongong.
The Mount Keira loop will involve a substantial climb into the escarpment, peaking at a 473-metre elevation and descending through the industrial heart of the city at the Port Kembla steelworks.
The third route begins in Helensburgh and travels south to Stanwell Tops before descending toward Wollongong via the region’s Bald Hill lookout and the Sea Cliff Bridge.
“We’ve worked really closely with UCI in difficult circumstances virtually, having to share course imagery through Go-Pro, through Google Maps, so it’s great to be able to get it out there,” Mr Taggart said.
The opportunity to join a large crowd of spectators to watch the action will be a welcome change from COVID-19 restrictions, according to Mr Taggart.
“Being together is a massive part of being a community, so we hope that this event is going to enable Wollongong to spend time together,” he said.
The routes were announced at a launch event last Friday in Wollongong’s City Beach Function Centre, with the federal Minister for Sport, Richard Colbeck present.
“I live in regional Australia myself so when something big like this comes, it’s an opportunity for the whole community to participate,” he said
Mr Colbeck committed a $5 million fund for the event and for broader efforts to boost cycling participation.
“We understand the values that this event will bring to the region, but also to the participation in cycling more broadly,” Mr Colbeck said.
Accommodation dilemma in the Illawarra
Despite the excitement, the event has created a dilemma about where cyclists and spectators will be able to stay.
Wollongong and surrounding areas are experiencing a major shortage in short-term rental accommodation, with council concerns about people renting homes without proper permits.
Mark Sleigh, general manager for Destination Wollongong says homeowners who wish to rent their properties to tourists need to “register with both the state government and local council and it has to meet the planning requirements, but more importantly, it has to meet the fire requirements.”
Mr Taggart said while Wollongong 2022 would help many competitors secure accommodation, it would be up to homeowners to do their own research into regulations surrounding renting out their properties.
He also said Wollongong’s proximity to Sydney also allowed for commuting to the championships.
“When you bring an event of this scale to a regional city, you have to look at alternatives, so we certainly have the luxury of Sydney being around an hour away,” he said.
“We really worked hard on the compromises that we needed to make, but it’s fair to say that there will be disruptions as there always would be when the biggest event that’s ever come to Wollongong arrives.”