PROMOTERS of cycling hope for a bounce out of Cadel Evans’ Tour de France win, but whether it spurs the appearance of more “Mamils” on Australian roads remains to be seen.
Yesterday, Evans became the first Australian to win the world’s most coveted cycling prize and at age 34 became the oldest winner of the Tour in 88 years.
His win transformed him overnight into an Australian sporting great and could boost the growing national popularity of bike riding and lead to even more frequent sightings of Mamils, or middle-aged men in lycra.
Sales of bicycles have outstripped those of cars in Australia for more than a decade and local councils are responding to the growing army of two-wheeled enthusiasts by putting in more cycling lanes.
Cycling Australia board member and six-time Tour de France participant Stephen Hodge says Evans’ win will undoubtedly translate into a greater interest in cycling.
“It remains to be seen how much of that we can convert to people actually riding.
“How do we harness this massive awareness and interest in what Cadel has done and tell people that it is a great thing for them to do personally?”
Mr Hodge said recent industry research showed that 70 per cent of Australians were not considering riding a bike for transport, but 60 per cent of those would consider it if road conditions were safer.
He said more investment was needed in training cyclists and motorists how to travel together safely, as well as putting in more cycleways and secure bike storage facilities.
More people on bikes would reduce road congestion and bring big health benefits, Mr Hodge said.
He said he did not know if Evans’ win would lead to a rise in people wanting to go road racing.
“I really hope so for Cycling Australia’s sake.