Tasmania’s events play as big a role as its riders in retaining the state’s prominent position on the Australian cycling map.
This is the opinion of the new chief executive of Cycling Australia who visited the state during its busiest week on the sport’s calendar.
Steven Drake attended Sunday’s Launceston Cycling Classic ahead of this week’s Tour of Tasmania and said such events do as much for the state’s profile as the likes of cyclist of the year nominees Richie Porte, Amy Cure and Anya Louw.
“Tasmania produces a lot of great riders and also plays above its weight in events,” Drake said.
“The Tour of Tasmania is the biggest event in the National Road Series and then there’s the Christmas Carnivals. We’re very grateful to the Tasmanian Government for supporting these events and if the state keeps doing that then it’s a question of how can we better support Tasmania.”
Drake was particularly impressed by the annual classic which again enticed a healthy crowd into the CBD.
“It’s terrific to have a major event in the centre of town, we struggle to get that elsewhere. I don’t think you could close down the centre of Melbourne like this, much though we would like to.
“This looks like a terrific event with good entries, great course and good support.”
A quarter of a century after winning a national road title on the North-West Coast, Drake happily outlined the assorted challenges facing CA.
The former Victorian and Australian Institute of Sport rider, who competed at the 1994 Commonwealth Games, has since been an investment banker for 20 years.
He joined the CA board in February 2017 and a year later was appointed to replace fellow St Kilda Cycling Club member and former Olympic rowing champion Nick Green as chief executive.
“I wanted to give something back to the sport,” said the 48-year-old father-of-two.
“Our biggest challenge is still recovering from the near-death experience of five years ago when the organisation was on the brink of insolvency.
“We are still operating with restricted financial capacity which makes changes harder but there are a number of innovations we are waiting to bring in over six to 12 months.
“Cycling safety is a huge issue and we need to do more to get more kids on bikes. It was great to watch the kids’ race here but there were only 15 starters – I would like to see separate age group races.”
Drake explained how CA’s restructured track-focused high performance program is driven by the goal to win Olympic medals, adding: “But while we may have de-emphasised road that does not mean our end goals do not involve the road and we are doing as much as we can to encourage the National Road Series.”
It’s a question of how can we better support TasmaniaCycling Australia chief executive Steven Drake
On Tuesday, CA announced the finalists for the cyclist of the year awards.
Porte’s victory in the Tour de Suisse saw the Launceston rider nominated for the male road category alongside Michael Matthews, Steele Von Hoff and Rohan Dennis.
Two Commonwealth Games gold medals saw West Pine’s Amy Pauwels (nee Cure) nominated with Kaarle McCulloch and Stephanie Morton for the female track award.
Victory in the Oceania under-19 time trial in her home state saw Devonport’s Anya Louw nominated for the junior cyclist of the year along with road race winner Sarah Gigante.
#ncs18 The Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic, which forms the opening round of the Cycling Australia Shimano National Criterium Series, is on today!— National Road Series #NRS18 (@Nat_Road_Series) November 10, 2018
📲💻 Visit our Facebook page https://t.co/DWLqW0zjbH to watch the LIVE STREAM #nrs18pic.twitter.com/PjCwKtoL91
Gene Bates, formerly of the Tasmanian Institute of Sport, is also up for the coach of the year award with winners to be announced in Melbourne on Friday, November 23.
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