A move to AusCycling hasn’t changed a great deal with the NRS, and the newly announced calendar for 2021 sees the return of a number of races, with the addition of a new race on the Sunshine Coast the main feature.
The AusCycling (AC) National Road Series (NRS) will return in 2021 highlighted by an increased schedule and the continuation of the National Esport Cycling Series. The split between the Classics and Tours section of the season remains, with three ‘classics’, including the storied races of Melbourne to Warrnambool and Grafton to Inverell still the biggest events on the domestic cycling calendar.
The series sees an increase in the number of race days, though observers of the NRS will know that announced calendars are rarely exactly what ends up being staged, with coronavirus wiping out the calendar in 2020, race cancellations and natural disasters seeing the calendar thinned in other years.
The race days slated at present are 30 for the men and 23 for the women. This is up from 28 and 14 days that were planned last season, which itself was an increase on the 2018 calendar. The jump for women particularly pleasing as it represents more of a season than a disjointed bunch of one-off races.
The 2021 NRS will open with the 105th edition of the Powercor Melbourne to Warrnambool which will see riders race the 267km course in it’s early season slot, this year falling just a week after nationals.
The Tour de Brisbane is back, with the second edition of the Tour to be held on April 11 and will incoporate the Oceania Championships as it was slated to do in 2020 after the late switch from Tasmania.
The Classics series will be rounded out with the 60th edition of the David Reid Homes Grafton to Inverell on May 8 which will feature a women’s NRS race for the first time.
The coronavirus-related shutdown of racing in the middle portion of the year prompted the first ever officially sanctioned e-NRS and that series will continue in 2021. Zwift will continue to partner with AusCycling to expand the National ESport Cycling Series which will feature five races in 2021 across May, June and July.
The second half of the NRS season will recommence on July 30 with the return of the Tour of the Tropics, followed by a bumper line up of the Battle on the Border, Tour of the Great South Coast and the Tour of Gippsland. Previously, the Tour of the Great South Coast had not run a women’s event alongside the men’s race, and the change means that the women’s calendar gets a significant boost in race days.
The Ride Sunshine Coast Festival will make its NRS debut with a four-stage event, while the Series’ penultimate Tour, the Tour of Tasmania, remains the longest-held stage race on the NRS calendar.
L’Étape Australia hasn’t featured NRS racing yet, though there have been informal events staged around the mass participation rides. The early staging of L’Etape Australia in March 2021, setting out from Kiama, will not be an NRS round, but the second staging in December will be. The location and dates for the second staging of L’Étape Australia are yet to be confirmed, but will conclude the 2021 NRS season.
Absent from the calendar is any mention of racing in the slot vacated by the Tour Down Under, with rumours that the ‘Santos Festival of Cycling’ would include an NRS race, a cyclocross race, a track event and a BMX event in lieu of the men’s and women’s UCI races.
AusCycling’s General Manager – Events and Racing, Kipp Kaufmann said he was excited ahead of a reinvigorated 2021 National Road Series.
“The interest by organisers and teams for the 2021 season has been tremendous. After a tough 2020 we are excited to expand the series this year,” said Kaufmann. “The quality of the series continues to grow as a platform to develop the next generation of Australian road talent.”
2021 AusCycling National Road Series Calendar
February 13, 2021: Melbourne to Warrnambool Classic (Men) Victoria
April 11, 2021: Tour de Brisbane (Men and Women) Queensland
May 8, 2021: Grafton to Inverell (Men and Women) New South Wales
July 30 – August 1, 2021: Tour of the Tropics (Men) Queensland
August 6-8, 2021: Battle on the Border (Men and Women) New South Wales
August 31 – September 5, 2021: Tour of the Great South Coast (Men and Women TBC) Victoria
October 1-3, 2021: Tour of Gippsland (Men and Women) Victoria
October 14-17, 2021: Ride Sunshine Coast (Men and Women) Queensland
November 24-28, 2021: Tour of Tasmania (Men and Women – Women Nov 26-28) Tasmania
Early December 2021: L’Etape Australia (Men and Women) New South Wales
2021 AusCycling National ESport Cycling Series
May 23, 2021: Round #1
June 6, 2021: Round #2
June 20, 2021: Round #3
July 11, 2021: Round #4
July 25, 2021: Round #5