It was over 30 years in the past when the 2022 UCI Highway World Championships race director, Scott Sunderland, learnt what a lot of the biking world ought to discover out in 10 months time – Wollongong, with its windswept coast line and escarpment views, has all of the components required to ship a spectacular bike race.
Belgium could also be the place Sunderland relies now, as he works as a race director at Flanders Classics, Cadel Evans Nice Ocean Highway Race, Experience London Traditional and Classique, however the Wollongong World Championships are on such a well-known stomping floor that his new function is considerably of a homecoming.
“For me personally, it simply goes again to my roots,” Sunderland instructed Cyclingnews final week after he was appointed race director on the second Highway World Championships ever to be held in Australia. “I come from the nation, Inverell. I used to be born and bred there, began my profession on the age of seven, did all the pieces I might from out of the Inverell after which went to stay in Sydney.”
Inverell is in the identical state as Wollongong, however his house city on a bend of the Macintyre River remains to be greater than 600 kilometres away. Nevertheless, that early-career shift to the west of Sydney, lower than an hour’s drive from the coastal metropolis, opened the door to an exploration of the area.
“An excellent pal got here from Wollongong,” defined Sunderland. “I used to go down there on a regular basis racing and coaching. We used to exit in Wollongong, out to the footy membership, the league membership. I’ve received nice reminiscences of the world from earlier than I came visiting to Europe full time.”
Reminiscences that included racing the Commonwealth Financial institution Traditional by way of the district – a stage race that ran for 19 years by way of to 2000 and had a winner’s record together with Jan Ulrich and Jens Voigt. Then there was the 943-kilometre Mazda Alpine Tour, the place Sunderland battled by way of powerful situations to take the general win in 1992.
All that point spent driving and racing across the diverse terrain south of Australia’s largest capital metropolis meant that as quickly as Wollongong Worlds was introduced Sunderland was nicely conscious of the world’s potential as a race and occasion location, for riders and spectators alike.
“You might be so near Sydney, nevertheless it’s nonetheless received that nation really feel to it, with huge open house,” mentioned Sunderland. “You’ve got the escarpment, you’ve got the climbs proper there at your fingertips. You will have the seashores and the flat to experience on so it is very a lot received nearly all you want as a bike owner for coaching necessities. And it is only a stunning space to be in, splendid seashores, an important browsing group and the biking tradition there has at all times been very robust.”
With that fast consciousness of the potential, additionally got here the speedy realisation that the function of race director at a Wollongong Highway World Championships was one he didn’t wish to miss.
Becoming a member of the Australian Worlds staff once more
Sunderland not solely has a few years behind him as a race director throughout a few of the most prestigious biking occasions in each Europe and Australia however has direct Worlds expertise. He has supported riders from commerce groups at World Championships in his function as sports activities supervisor, was concerned as the newest occasion unfolded at shut quarters in Flanders and likewise raced in 13 Highway World Championships, representing Australia within the race for the rainbow stripes from the late 1980’s by way of to the early 2000’s.
That background meant that when Sunderland’s title was introduced as race director it appeared the plain selection. It could be exhausting to look previous the 55-year-old’s cumulative expertise, notably with the overlay of that financial institution of native data, all-important in an period the place the COVID-19 pandemic associated border restrictions made it exhausting to journey out and in of Australia.
Sunderland, for one, mentioned there was nobody side of that have which alone would dominate as he set about his duties as race director on the Highway World Championships, with the broad image gathered from his time within the race director’s chair at numerous different occasions combining with the attitude he has obtained from all the opposite completely different vantage factors he has had all through his biking profession.
“I pull from my time as a rider, from my time within the staff automotive as a staff supervisor … however then I draw from on a regular basis one-day occasions and excursions but additionally from my participations in so many World Championships,” Sunderland mentioned, including that it was vital to know the completely different dynamics at play within the races for the rainbow jersey.
Choosing the components
As nationwide biking our bodies analyse their efficiency on the Flanders Worlds after which begin enthusiastic about their groups for Wollongong, one of many massive inquiries to be answered is what’s going to the course for 2022 appear to be? Given what the Wollongong staff needed to work with whereas formulating the but to be introduced routes, the reply is way from apparent.
“What Wollongong offers is a chance to create absolutely anything,” mentioned Sunderland. “It has one thing for every type of riders from GC riders to classics riders to pure sprinters.”
“In fact we’re operating 11 occasions, from juniors to elite males, so that you want to have the ability to make occasions that are appropriate for everybody but additionally we wish to, in fact, have an thrilling occasion that is dynamic, that is stay spectator pleasant, that is TV broadcast pleasant and that creates these nice photographs of the riders inside the sport, but additionally of the backdrop of Wollongong, as a result of it deserves that – it is such a lovely, picturesque space of New South Wales.”
The dramatic stretches of shoreline aplenty sit alongside quite a few choices for inland jaunts and, whereas the world has its share of flat roads, there may be additionally the climbs of the escarpment.
“Wollongong gives a full bundle,” mentioned Sunderland.
That meant the problem initially when considering course design was not what to place in, however extra about what to depart out.
“When you’ve got as many issues to select from as Wollongong it is tempting to suppose let’s put that in and this in after which rapidly now we have received too many components … we’ve received to start out taking one thing out,” mentioned Sunderland. “That is been an issue for us right here – as a result of you possibly can simply add a lot in – not to enter overkill and spoil it.”
Although, Sunderland believes the precise steadiness is there.
“I believe everybody’s going to be very pleased with how this course will pan out, for all occasions,” concluded Sunderland.