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World champions

Freewheeling: Cycling in Australia

World champions

On the world stage

In the decades after the bicycle arrived in Australia, cycling competitions became big business. Talented riders abandoned their amateur status to vie for cash prizes in major competitions in Australia and overseas. Cycling's popularity declined in the mid-20th century, but underwent a major resurgence from the 1980s, with government funding for high-performance programs.

Exhibition highlights

Freewheeling explores the stories of riders including: Ken Ross, who competed in six-day races in Australia and Europe from 1917; Tour de France competitors Hubert Opperman and Cadel Evans; and Paralympic champions Sue Powell and Michael Milton.

  • A green and yellow speedsuit with a zip half way down the front. On the front, top, right side of the speedsuit are five yellow stars and on the front, top, left side is a Australian coat of arms with the text 'AUSTRALIAN PARALYMIC TEAM / LONDON 2012' beneath it. Down the left leg of the speedsuit is the text 'AUSTRALIA' which is yellow in colour.
    Sue Powell's skinsuit, 2012
  • Carbon fibre leg brace with velcro straps and a shoe worn by Australian Paralympic cycling champion, Sue Powell.
    Sue Powell's leg brace, 2009
  • A stump bucket mould which is used as a attachment for a para-cycling track racing bicycle. The stump bucket consists of two carbon fibre bucket shaped moulds that are brown in colour. One mould is inserted into the other mould and a metal rod is attached to the lower bucket.
    Michael Milton's stump bucket, 2008
  • A black and white photo of Hubert Opperman leading a four-man team through a village during the Tour de France, 1928.
    Hubert Opperman, 1928
  • A blue grey beret
    Hubert Opperman's beret, 1928
  • A group of cyclists on a road take a lefthand turn.Two spectators stand at the far side of the road, and mountains form a backdrop in the distance.
    Cadel Evans, 2008
  • A red, blue and yellow 'Cannondale' mountain bike. The bike has yellow rimmed wheels and a pale blue seat.
    Cadel Evans' road bike, 2008
  • Simon Gerrans, riding for Orica GreenEdge, in yellow.
    Simon Gerrans, 2013
  • Ken Ross riding a bicycle.
    Ken Ross, 1917
  • Front and back of a green enamelled metal medal in a sheild design. Text: front - DUNLOP / ROAD RACE / 1931 /GOULBURN . SYDNEY; back - L.N.S.W.W / K ROSS. / 6 Hrs 47 Min 55 3/5.
    Goulburn to Sydney medal won by Ken Ross, 1931
  • Stuart O’Grady and his teammates.
    Stuart O’Grady, 2001
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