Illawarra to host 2022 UCI world road cycling championships

Yellow jersey: Chris Froome. Picture: Benoit Tessier, Pool via AP
Yellow jersey: Chris Froome. Picture: Benoit Tessier, Pool via AP

The biggest names in cycling will converge on Wollongong after it secured hosting rights to the prestigious 2022 UCI Road World Championships.

In a major coup for the NSW government, Fairfax Media can reveal Wollongong will host the eight-day event that will attract 1000 competitors, 300,000 spectators and a worldwide television audience of more than 200  million people.

An announcement will be made on Friday morning (AEST) in Innsbruck-Tirol, Austria, where this year’s world championships were recently held.

“The eyes of the world will be on Wollongong for eight days in 2022, with an international viewing audience of 200 million people, more than 300,000 spectators and 500 media outlets staying in the region,” NSW Sport Minister Stuart Ayres said.

“More than one thousand competitors from more than 50 countries will compete and the event is expected to deliver $94 million to the NSW visitor economy.

“The championships will see junior, under-23 and elite male and female athletes compete across the Road Race, Individual and Team Time Trial events, creating a world-class event for spectators.”

It is the third international event the NSW government has secured as part of its “10 World Cups in 10 years” campaign after winning the rights to the men’s and women’s Twenty20 world cups in 2020.

The government is also on the verge of securing the 2021 Women’s Rugby World Cup, to be held in the Hunter Valley, and it has its eyes on  bigger prizes.

It is targeting the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, the 2027 Rugby World Cup and the 2029 Rugby League World Cup — events which are realistic goals when the Berejiklian government’s $1.6 million rebuild of Allianz Stadium and refurbishment of ANZ Stadium is complete.

Cycling’s governing body, the UCI, chose Wollongong because of its spectacular views along the NSW south coast.

It has long been popular with amateur cyclists with 42kms of of shared pathways from Sandon Point to Lake Illawarra.

The event is expected to attract the most star-studded international field seen in NSW since the 2000 Olympic Games road races in Sydney.

It would attract many of the stars of cycling’s three grand tours – the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España – and the one day classics.

Riders of the calibre of today’s stars like Britons Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas, Australian Richie Porte, Italian Vincenzo Nibali, Slovakian Peter Sagan, Belgium’s Greg Van Avermaet and Dutchman Tom Dumoulin may compete.

Some of the Australian riders who are likely to race include South Australian Rohan Dennis, who won the world men’s elite time trial championship in Innsbruck last week; sprinter Caleb Ewan, who hails from nearby Bowral; the ACT’s Michael Matthews, the 2017 Tour de France green jersey winner; and some of Australia’s new emerging talent, including Queenslanders Jack Haig and Nick Shultz and West Australians Ben O’Connor and Rob Power.

The NSW government will work in conjunction with Wollongong City Council to establish a Local Organising Committee to organise the event. More than 1500 volunteers will be called upon. 

“Illawarra residents have a ‘once in a life-time opportunity’ to witness the world’s best cyclists, not to mention the fact our stunning region and its natural attractions will be broadcast into the homes of millions of people,” Member for Kiama Gareth Ward said.

“Wollongong has played host to major events including the annual ‘MS Sydney to the Gong’ ride and the recent Wigan versus Hull Super League match, so we can’t wait to show the world what this region can deliver.”

Cycling Australia Chief Executive, Steve Drake said: “Hosting the 2022 Road Worlds in Australia is a coup for the country and our sport. We are confident the event will attract interest across the country and inspire the next generation of Australian cyclists to ride their bikes for both sport and recreation.”

One aspiring cyclist hoping to compete is Sarah Cliff, 14, who is the current Australian junior cycling champion.

“To compete for Australia at these championships would be a dream come true for me,” Cliff said. “This is a mind-blowing opportunity and I will work so incredibly hard to represent my country in 2022.”

  • Fairfax Media