Although the Wollongong 2022 UCI Road World Championships are more than two years away, there are lots of reasons all Aussie road cyclists should be excited. Not only will the event be exciting and very accessible for many of us, but it will also have some great legacies which have been detailed in a policy released a couple of weeks ago by Cycling Australia.
The legacy plan provides a top-line description of quite a few key areas including sport, transport, policy, education, tourism, people, and partnerships. To find out more I had a chat with Kipp Kaufmann who is the General Manager of Sport at Cycling Australia.
One of the things that Kipp stressed is that most of the legacy areas will actually bring lots of groups together in partnership. The World Champs themselves will be run by an organising committee that is yet to be fully setup, but the committee will rely heavily on partnerships with key organisations like government at local, state and federal levels, police, local cycling clubs, local educational institutions, and local businesses.
I was particularly keen to hear more about the intention of Wollongong/Illawarra to be labelled a UCI bike city. I read on the UCI website that “the UCI Bike City label supports and reward cities and regions who not only host major UCI cycling events but also invest in developing community cycling and related infrastructure”. The Bike City concept is much more than just lycra-clad road cyclists it seeks to maximise the impact of sport to help create better, safer cities for all people on bikes, regardless of their age, level of fitness or cycling activity.
You can read the full list of criteria/pillars for the UCI bike city but the things that stood out to me are – reduce the risk of cycling, increase cycle usage, and better infrastructure for bikes. If the Illawarra region achieves these lofty goals, we can replicate them in higher-risk locations like Sydney where riding on the road can be a dangerous past time. I’ll enjoy tracking their progress. My own limited experience of riding in the Illawarra region has mostly been positive but has been limited to my participation in the annual Gong Ride, on about eight occasions.
So Wollongong needs to do more than just host the event, it needs to back this up with other stuff like a transport cycling strategy, hosting of mass participation events, bicycle training for children and more.
I asked Kipp about how Wollongong compares to a place like Yorkshire in England where the event was held last year. “Yorkshire was already well ahead of where we are in terms of events. A few years earlier they hosted the Tour de France Grand Depart and host the annual Tour of Yorkshire. So we’re starting at a different point.
Australia last hosted the World Championships in Geelong in 2010 which was done well and gained legacy events like the Cadel Evans Great Ocean event, Kipp says we learned from that event and can do much better.
I also asked Kipp about how female cyclists will benefit specifically from Wollongong 2022 and he said “that under-represented groups like women have a great opportunity to take advantage of the grants program noted in the legacy document.
“Wollongong 2022 is also a great opportunity for all spectators to see the world’s best female cyclists in action, which builds on the great work being achieved by the Women’s Tour Down Under and Cadel Evans race in increasing the profile of women’s bike racing,” added Kipp.