As the 2011 Australian National Road Series gets down to business end of the 12-race calendar, the focus is on Tasmania with the Launceston – New Norfolk Classic kicking off two of the most truly challenging events of the domestic season. The Launceston - New Norfolk Classic is the eighth event of the NRS.
This will be the first year that the one-day classic joins the NRS, with the race replacing the Launceston to Hobart in 2009 and soon developing a reputation for its difficult course with just seven of a 76-strong field, making it to the finish line. That day, Launceston-local Bernard Sulzberger took the spoils, riding for V Australia. Victorian Pat Shaw won the 2010 edition of the race and both will be back for the 2011 edition.
Shaw's Genesys teammate, Nathan Haas has a commanding lead in the NRS with 715 points having won the Tour of Gippsland and Tour of Geelong. In fact, the riders with the top three positions – Haas, Steele Von Hoff (Genesys) and Shaw all will line up in Launceston to take on the 208 kilometre course.
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.
The event is key preparation for teams and riders set for the 10-stage Tour of Tasmania, which begins October 4.