Wollongong 2022 a success?

Excluding Mr van der Poel issue with the law. Did Wollongong archive its goal of promoting Wollongong as a tourist destination? Or is it too early to tell?

As an attendee of the Saturday and Sunday road races I saw thousands and thousands of folks having a whale of a time on Mt Pleasant and around the finish. The noise at the finish when Annamiek VV came through was deafening, and the noise on each of the 12 laps of the mens RR was likewise. Teams and team cars seemed to be having a good time in Oz, and the organisers were professional and thorough. From the Mayor down, the locals were engaged - of course there was annoyance about the traffic disruption, but this was a major event with a global audience, going on for eight days of world class sport. Zoe Backstedt, AVV, and Remco were my personal highlights, but all those who competed were absolutely tested by each course to get their rainbow bands. I think the organising team from top to bottom gets a double gold star for what they put on. Equally as professionally run as the TDU, which is also a world class event IMHO.

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From the moment the event was announced, there was frequent commentary on how awesome the Sea Cliff Bridge would look with the Peloton crossing it. Yet, between all of the scenic shots and race highlights incorporated into Channel 9’s free-to-air coverage (and also some snippets of GCN’s broadcasts), I never saw it once. Have since found a (distant) still photo of the men’s race on it, but still don’t know whether the women crossed it. Just seemed strange.

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Given the timezone difference I haven’t watched a lot, only saw some recaps + the last 30km of the men race. I haven’t seen anything notable that would make me wish to take a flight there and the riders issues with magpie, seagulls and teenagers only confirmed my assumption that even the most benign creatures in Australia will try to kill you. All in all I wouldn’t rate that as a success.

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When the Australian Open happens in January, it’s one of my favorite sports events of the winter. I’m on the east coast of the US, and matches start around 9pm my time. I watch a little and go to bed. If I’m lucky, an epic match is still going when I wake up. The shots of Melbourne are magnificent, and it seems like a place I might want to visit.

This race went from 11pm-3am my time. Watching it live wasn’t an option (maybe I would have if someone was knocking on my door throughout the night…). I watched the highlights, but I didn’t get much of a sense of the area.

So from a tourism-development perspective, for the east coast of the US, maybe not successful. But maybe it was more effective for people in other time zones. It’s really a shame, this spherical planet.

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Nope it’s not, planet is flat.

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Yep, earth is flat and those pesky magpies/seagulls aren’t real

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Overall, I’d think the event was a success.

Positives:

  1. Despite the vocal opinions of a minority of insular locals, the Gong is not the epicentre of the world and minor traffic inconvenience was not a problem that offset the large influx in visitors, their cash, and global promotion via race coverage.
  2. Most locals were really positive about it.
  3. The atmosphere at these bike races is awesome - there is virtually no trouble or violence, almost everyone is really happy and friendly.
  4. Accommodation was practically booked out in a radius extending well beyond the Gong. We stayed in Kiama. That’s a lot of inflowing cash. The minority of whingers will profit from that, indirectly, despite their moaning.
  5. There must have been heaps of spending in the region by visitors. I hear the occasional “cyclists ride in and out, they don’t spend” which is BS. Most of the eateries in Kiama closing at 7pm (!) on Friday didn’t help, but there a lot of visitors who must have been spending.

Negatives:

  1. Traffic snarls. One driver insisted on driving out around the barriers left to leave a gap, where spectators had naturally gathered to watch the race. I felt sorry for them but on the other hand, I also wondered if they were just insisting on using ‘their’ road to duck down to the shops.
  2. Some bogans don’t like cycling. This is not really a negative, they should just suck it up.
  3. It cost a bit of money to put on - most of it from the state govt I believe. I feel this was value for money, although I’ve not done any maths.
  4. Some of the organisation could have been better. The shuttle bus driver I was on was really unhelpful and it wasn’t clear where the bus was going. It struck me he knew that - maybe he was frustrated? Mind you grumpy bus drivers are almost standard - cycling or not.

Other comments:

  1. Lots of criticism about lack of promotion. I disagree. Random people aren’t going to attend this event. Cyclists are. They aren’t getting their info from general ads on tv or whatever. We know it’s on.

Overall: I think it was a success.

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As a local, it’s a bit of a mixed result.

Personally, I really enjoyed it, though I would have been watching live in the early hours anyway if it was in Europe. I took the week off work and saw most of the events. Enjoyed the riding with mates on semi-closed roads just before the races and the atmosphere on Keira and Ramah was fantastic.

Reasonable numbers on the first Sunday for the ITT, though got the impression it was mostly locals. Influx of people for the elite road races, particularly the Mens. Not many around for any of the mid-week races, even the U23 when the weather was still good. Retailers/cafes expecting thousands to be milling around all week would have been disappointed. Basically just one big day for the Mens RR.

In promo terms, I think most non-cyclists didn’t realise it was the World Champs until very late in the piece. Event was largely known as “the UCI” and I think many just thought it was some random cycling event like the MS Gong Ride. Maybe would have been better if eg: road signage referred to it as “World Champs Cycling” or something similar.

In general though, it was a really good week. Spoke to a couple of locals on Ramah who said they were a bit pissed off initially with the closures, but once the events started the realised what a big deal it was and got into the party spirit and were having a great time.

Council are also using the event, plus the UCI Bike City designation, to improve cycling in the area, so hope this continues.

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My understanding is the local paper got heaps of mileage spreading doom and gloom about the event for months, before conveniently switching sides just before the event when it was time to enjoy it.

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I believe the car wide gap near New Mt pleasant Rd up to Ramah was actually meant to be a traffic lane, but that was ill-considered as it became a rather effective bike lane with the occasional walker. I heard a conversation between police and traffic control with the police officer being shocked it was meant for cars.

That was the Illawarra Mercury I believe; I would have read some of their articles about the worlds just for fun but it’s all behind a paywall.

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Pretty optimistic believing everyone would leave it clear on race day. Although, you can’t argue “where are the spectators?!” and complain that they’re all in your car lane at the same time.

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I totally agree.

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Sounds like pre-Olympics coverage every 4 years…!

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