Nicholas Green OAM, CEO Cycling Australia, Paralympic Gold Medallist in Cycling Carol Cooke and Miles Scotson track and road cycling racer for BMC Racing Team.

THE nation’s best cyclists are set to vie for national honours and a coveted spot on the Aussie Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games team when the Road National Championships hit Ballarat in January.

Minister for Regional Development Jaala Pulford joined Member for Buninyong Geoff Howard and representatives from Cycling Australia on Monday to officially launch the countdown to the event.

Regional Victoria is fast becoming the cycling capital of Australia, and the Andrews Labor Government is making sure Ballarat remains front and centre.

This fantastic race has been locked in for the next three years, thanks to funding from the Labor Government’s Significant Sporting Events Program and Regional Events Fund, along with support from the City of Ballarat.

It means Ballarat’s passionate cycling fans can rest assured that pedal power will return to the heart of the city for the 12th consecutive year next summer and beyond.

The Championships pit Australia’s most talented cyclists against the very best in the world, as riders vie for glory and a spot on the Australian road, time trial and criterion teams.

Our Aussies will be keen to impress ahead of selection for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games next April.

This year’s event saw more than 20,000 fans line the streets, many from interstate and overseas, and injected $4 million into the local economy.

Next year will be bigger and better with new events for junior cyclists, more activities for families and kids, and an expanded Gran Fondo for the whole community to get involved in the fun and action.

“With the countdown well and truly on for the Gold Coast Games, events like these give a future Cadel Evans and Bridie O’Donnell the best possible start as they prepare to do us proud on the world stage,” Ms Pulford said.

Attending the launch were Paralympic Gold Medallist in Cycling Carol Cooke and Miles Scotson track and road cycling racer for BMC Racing Team.

2018 will see the inclusion of para-cycling.

Ms Cooke said it was exciting to be a part of Ballarat and the Road Nationals.

“We have always had our nationals, by ourselves, end of April, in crummy weather and a road somewhere in the middle of nowhere with no-one around,” she said.

“We won’t be doing the Buninyong course; we’ll be out at Cardigan so any of those who want to come out on the Friday we will be there.

We always felt like the poor cousin to every other discipline and now we feel we are almost on par and being recognised for the elite cyclists we are.”