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Riders head up the climb at Poatina during the 208-kilometre Launceston to New Norfolk One-Day Classic.
Brutal classic looking for a third champion
With two tough years behind it, the Launceston to New Norfolk Classic has been elevated to National Road Teams Series status.
The race replaced the Launceston to Hobart in 2009 and soon developed a reputation for its difficult course with just seven of a 76-strong field, making it to the finish line. That day, Tasmanian Bernard Sulzberger took the spoils, riding for V Australia.
Victorian Pat Shaw won the 2010 edition of the race.
"I never knew much about this event until today but, boy, it's one of the best bike races in Australia," Shaw exclaimed after crossing the line. "The course is so tough."
The event, which also gains a new major sponsor in 2011 – Elgas which will open its Tasmanian operations in Launceston shortly, is now one of 11 races on the National Road Teams Series. The others being Mersey Valley Tour, Canberra Tour, Tour of Toowoomba, Tour of Gippsland, Tour of Geelong, Tour of the Murray, Goulburn to Citi, Tour of Tasmania, Grafton to Inverell, Melbourne to Warrnambool, Shipwreck Coast and Emerald Lakes.
Cycling Tasmania president Noel Pearce described the Launceston to New Norfolk Classic as an event that "all riders should have a crack at."
"It's an unforgettable experience for the riders, officials, sponsors and the media... I believe this event is destined for greatness in Australian cycling."
After departing Launceston, the race follows a course through Pateena, Longford, Cressy, Poatina, Arthur's Lake, St. Patrick's Plains, Steppes, Bothwell, Berridale, Hollow Tree, Rosegarland, Gretna and Hayes before finishing at Derwent Valley Council chambers.
There will be 13 intermediate sprints and seven hill climbs along the route, with the King of Poatina award going to the rider first up the 10 kilometre climb, which peaks at the gradient of 7.6 per cent.