Ballarat’s world champion cyclist eyes last Nationals at home
Ballarat cyclist Alana Forster has had an up-and-down couple of years.
In 2021, Dr Forster moved to Ballarat to work at Ballarat Base Hospital’s emergency department.
But last year, she was seriously injured in a car crash, suffering fractures to her pelvis, femur, ribs and more. The incident left her with nerve damage in her leg.
Forster’s rehabilitation remains ongoing, but the keen cyclist has returned to competition as a para-cyclist with a lower-leg impairment. Her journey has taken her to the top of the world.
In one of her first races back, on local roads in Buninyong, Forster won the Australian championship in her category.
In August, she represented Australia in track and road cycling at the UCI Cycling World Championships in Scotland. There, the 37-year-old became a world champion, winning the C5 scratch race on the velodrome.
“It was a tough year, but I love riding my bike, and when I couldn’t, it was pretty hard,” Forster said after winning her national title.
“To feel like a bike racer again is probably one of the best feelings in the world.”
Now, for the first and possibly last time, the Ballarat East resident is preparing to defend her national title at home.
The 2024 Federation University RoadNats Ballarat will be the last in the city’s 18-year streak of hosting the national titles.
“It’s been iconic having Nationals in Ballarat,” Forster, who is the vice-president of Ballarat Sebastopol Cycling Club, said.
“It’s built up a legacy that means we have a very strong bike community here. You get a lot of locals who come along and support, people who might not necessarily ride themselves or follow cycling.”
The championships will run from January 3-7, beginning with time trials at Federation University’s Mt Helen Campus.
Ballarat’s CBD will host the criterium races on the Friday evening, where spectators can get up close to Australia’s top cyclists as they fly along Sturt Street.
On the weekend, the fan-favourite live site will return to Mount Buninyong after several years’ absence.
With food and drink, sponsor stalls and a big screen, it will be the best place to soak up the atmosphere of Ballarat’s last road championships. Events are free to attend.
“It’s a bit sad that Nationals is moving on, but we’ll make the best of it and have a big final showdown,” Forster said.