Emilie Miller is excited about the new Tour Down Under Wheel-Race

NEW CHALLENGE: Bathurst world champion Emilie Miller will get a chance to race at the Tour Down Under next year. Photo: CASEY GIBSON
NEW CHALLENGE: Bathurst world champion Emilie Miller will get a chance to race at the Tour Down Under next year. Photo: CASEY GIBSON

WHEN Emilie Miller contested her first Para-cycling race seven years ago, she never even contemplated that one day she would be involved in the Tour Down Under.

But come next January on the streets of Adelaide, Miller will get to showcase the talents which have led her to become a dual world champion when she takes part in the inaugural Tour Down Under Wheel-Race.

The 30-minute sprint circuit demonstration adds to what is already the biggest annual cycling event in Australia, with the men's and women's Tour Down Under drawing a host of the world's best road talents.

"The development in Para-Cycling and Para sport in general in Australia has just been phenomenal over the last few years. Even since I started competing in 2012 - it was a small thing back then," Miller said.

"That was seven years ago and the progress that we've made in that amount of time, to get recognition for Para sport in Australia, is awesome. To be able to be at such a prestigious event is fantastic as well.

"It's the first major race on the calendar every year, so it attracts a lot of world class WorldTour riders. For any cyclist to even go to the event to watch it as spectator would be an incredible experience, so now to be able to ride there ourselves and show what we can do on a world stage, yeah, that's doubly exciting.

"What made it exciting for us as athletes as well was that the sponsors were keen for it, it wasn't just the Para community and Cycling Australia pushing for it. That's a really positive step moving forward."

The race will follow on from the Cycling Australia Road Nationals and will be another opportunity for Para-cyclists to hone their skills and fitness ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.

But on top of that, it is a chance to further boost the profile of the already highly successful Australian team.

"I think every member of the Australian Para-Cycling team is also an ambassador for the sport," Miller said.

"We have so many successful athletes in our team, we have 18 rainbow [world champion] jerseys this year as a team across track and road. So I think as a team collectively, our success is what drives it forward in terms of putting it in the public eye.

"That then holds every athlete accountable for their own performances and the development of the sport."

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment David Ridgway said the event will be a "showstopper for fans".

"The Santos Tour Down Under is about elite sports for men and women - and bringing in new cycling disciplines will have great appeal to cycling fans as well as the fans of sport. This is elite athleticism, the best of the world's very best," he said.

The Para-cycling wheel-race will take place on January 19 in Adelaide.

This story Miller is delighted she will get to Tour Down Under first appeared on Western Advocate.