Geared for a battle

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 29-Nov-2012

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By Rosemary Sorensen
Greater Bendigo council has responded to criticism about its endorsement of a cycling event run by an online retailer.
The UK-based Wiggle company will hold an event in Bendigo on December 9 as part of its Super Series.
“The City of Greater Bendigo’s involvement in this event is restricted to traffic management support and some minor marketing assistance of the actual event,” events manager Terry Karamaloudis said.
“Council views the Wiggle Bendigo Belter as an opportunity to attract bike riders to Bendigo to participate in this event.
“Bendigo is working hard to attract a slice of the lucrative cycling tourism market.”
According to a Sydney-based bike company, Bendigo’s retailers are upset by the event.
“Essentially, the City of Greater Bendigo has lent its support, including the use of their logo on event artwork, to an event being run on behalf of an overseas online retailer,” Shimano national sales manager Drew Johnson said.
“We have no issues with internet selling, but they are able to flaunt our laws.
“I’ve asked some of the retailers in Bendigo and they’ve said, no way would they get involved in that.
“I, for one, think it is an appalling state of affairs when a regional city council would sell off their proud and strong cycling heritage to overseas enterprises that have nothing more on their minds other than to exploit local markets.
“It is simply a disgrace.”
Mr Karamaloudis said council made the decision to host the ride, which is the first time it has been held in Australia, because it is an opportunity to attract cycling visitors.
“It was not the intention of the council to encourage online shopping through this event to the detriment of local retailers,” he said.
“This event will provide an opportunity for local retailers to take advantage of the influx of cyclists in our city.”
Limelight Sports is the Melbourne company organising the Wiggle ride.
“We were looking in the Victorian region and Bendigo council was very keen to bring it to Bendigo,” Limelight spokesman Alistair Hills said.
“It’s an opportunity to expand into the Australian market and get the brand out there.
“We will run at a loss the first year, but this is part of our plan to invest in cycling in Australia.”
The 155-kilometre road ride had attracted 270 registrations this week, the majority from outside Bendigo.
“Our aim was to attract people to Bendigo so that they may experience Bendigo and the many things it has to offer – we are on track to achieve that aim,” Mr Karamaloudis said.
Wiggle international marketing head Maddy Riordan said Bendigo was an ideal setting.
“Bendigo has some of the most jaw-dropping scenery,”she said.
“It is the perfect place to offer keen cyclists the indulgence of a completely organised and hassle-free weekend ride.”

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