Volunteers sought as two year countdown begins for major international cycling event in Wollongong

Wollongong has a chance to welcome the world in exactly two years time just as thousands of volunteers did for the Sydney Olympics 20 years ago.

During the unveiling of a countdown clock in Crown Street Mall on Friday for the UCI Road Cycling Championships in September 2022, it was revealed there will be opportunities for volunteers to get involved with the global event that will be seen by more than 350 million television viewers.

Wollongong 2022 chief executive Stu Taggart said he was aware of how the city provided the best cruise ship welcomers the industry had ever seen and how hundreds of Illawarra volunteers were involved in making Sydney 2000 the best ever Olympic games.

"We are looking somewhere in the vicinity of between 1000 and 1500 people across the event," Mr Taggart said,

"We are keen to learn more about the volunteer network that exists already and how we can tap into that.

"We want to provide opportunities for those who just want to get involved. We really want to create a Team Wollongong vibe around the event."

Mr Taggart said he had spoken to Destination Wollongong about activating the cruise ship welcomers again and there will definitely be a UCI Road Cycling Championship uniform for the volunteers taking part so they are easily identifiable.

Wollongong 2022 board chair Dean Dalla Vale, who grew up in Fairy Meadow, said while the course is yet to be revealed he had already ridden it and was certain riders, spectators and viewers around the globe were going to love it.

He said volunteers required for the major international event would include marshalls along the course as well as people to help with preparation, welcoming, car parking and assisting the world's best riders and their teams.

Mr Dalla Vale said thousands of people would also be encouraged to line the course.

"We are really looking for the people of Wollongong to get behind this," he said.

"It is incumbent on us to create awareness and this countdown clock will be a constant reminder to help people understand how big this event is. It is a once in a generation opportunity and a chance for the people of Wollongong to be really proud of the city.

"I was born in Wollongong and to see this event showcase the region on the world stage is very exciting.

"Some 355 million people watched the Yorkshire event and we are expecting that to be the same here and many of those people will want to come and put Wollongong on their list of things to do."

Illawarra cyclists Chloe Heffernan and Jarrod Williams and former cyclist Simon Kersten said it was a dream come true for any professional Australian rider to see such a premier road race held here.

They said that once the best cyclists in the world and their support crews, teams and families saw what the Illawarra had to offer they would want to keep coming back.

"This is going to be such an awesome experience. Especially because cycling has been booming in Wollongong for some time and the cycling club is growing. It will be really nice to have the world's best in Wollongong," Mr Williams said.

Ms Heffernan said the event in the middle of the international cycling season would be a major motivation for all local riders who dreamt of reaching the elite level.

In unveiling the locally fabricated countdown clock with a countdown himself, Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said securing the world championships was a major coup for the city and wonderful opportunity to showcase the region to the world.

"Last week we marked the 20th anniversary of the start of the Sydney 2000 Olympics and we're talking about Wollongong experiencing that buzz once again,'' Cr Bradbery said.

"We enjoyed the excitement during the Olympics in Sydney, we felt it again when the Rugby League World Cup came in 2008, and this event is next level again.

"There is no doubt across those eight days in September 2022 there will be a real festive atmosphere in Wollongong, and the opportunity for some 1500 volunteers to get involved.'

"The size and scale of this event has not been experienced in this city before. We will see some of the world's best cyclists riding the streets of our city.

"In fact, Geelong is the only other Australian city that has enjoyed hosting honours of this prestigious event. We are very excited to be working with the NSW State Government and the Wollongong 2022 to bring this to our community.''

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the race will attract the best international cyclists and their passionate supporters from every corner of the globe.

"The 2022 UCI Road World Championships is a landmark event for Wollongong and regional NSW. It presents a major opportunity to showcase the NSW south coast, and attract a new generation of athletes and sports fans to this spectacular part of our state," Mr Ayres said.

"The NSW government, through its tourism and major events agency Destination NSW, is proud to support this major sporting event, and such activities will be critical to our state's COVID recovery plan by driving visitation, boosting tourism expenditure in the area and beyond, and building awareness of NSW to potential holidaymakers."

Mr Dalla Vale said the 2022 UCI Road World Championships had the potential to establish Wollongong as a globally recognised cycling tourism and major event destination. And that mean more global cycling events would be attracted to the stunning setting between the mountains and sea in the future.

Mr Taggart said it was fitting the two year countdown clock was unveiled just as the world's best cyclists, including Richie Porte who finished third in the Tour de France on Sunday, were gathered in Imola to compete in this year's UCI Road World championships.

"With cycling firmly in the spotlight across the globe, we will continue to work closely with the UCI, NSW Government, Wollongong City Council, Cycling Australia, Cycling NSW and the local community to plan and deliver a spectacular event in 2022," he said.

Cr Bradbery said between now and September 2022 Council will continue to invest in improving the city's cyclability, as part of our commitment to support riding for future generations.

"We know not everyone rides a bike but there are a lot of people in our community who do, or wish to ride,'' he said.

"The steps we're taking now will make it safer and easier for everyone to choose a mode of transport that best suits their needs.''

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This story Call for volunteers as countdown begins to world cycling event first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.