By Paul Verkuylen
The Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals are one step closer to meeting its new UCI Category 3 criteria, with the confirmation that New Zealand will send its track squad to contest the event. The event's organisers, Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania, announced in September it had been awarded UCI status for three of the events that make up the annual track racing series, which means they now carry all important qualifying points for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.
Latrobe, Launceston and Devonport will each feature four events that carry UCI points; the Elite Men's sprint, Keirin and Team Sprint as well as the Elite Women's points race. In order for the event to be officially sanctioned, four national teams must be in attendance, a number which the organisers are confidant in achieving. "We already have Martin Barras' [Australian] sprint team and New Zealand are already coming with their team. America has expressed interest in making the trip and we have sent out invites to Malaysia, Canada, China as well as Japan," SCAT President Grant Atkins told Cyclingnews.
Race organisers are excited that their carnivals have received the UCI status, and are working hard to make sure that the carnivals are run at their usual high standards. "The Tassie Christmas carnivals have always been great, but this will make them that little bit more special," added Atkins.
The new UCI classified races won't be at the expense of the hugely popular wheel races, but rather will serve to add to the excitement that they generate. "It will mean there will be around 30 extra international riders attending the already packed field, which will make the racing even more exciting," noted Atkins.
Organisers are working busily to adjust the packed event schedule to accommodate the extra races, in an attempt to impress the UCI enough to be granted category 2 status in 2008.
For more information on the Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals, click here.
The Tasmanian Christmas carnival consists of:
December 22 Rosebery
December 26 Latrobe
December 28 Launceston
December 29-30 Devonport
December 31 Burnie criterium
January 1 Burnie
January 6 Hobart
January 19 St Helens