Former Australian national criterium champion Anthony Giacoppo (Avanti Racing) has won the 2015 University of Tasmania Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic, outsprinting Nathan Earle (Team Sky) to claim victory under sunny Tasmanian skies.
Giacoppo led a small attack with only four laps to go, enjoying a several second lead from the fast-chasing peloton as they climbed Lawrence Street for the final time. Giacoppo then burst away to enter the final turn at the front, besting Earle on the final straight with team-mate Neil van der Ploeg rounding out the podium.
"2015 has been a relatively slow year on the bike for me due to a few injuries, so to come back on top is fantastic," exclaimed Giacoppo after his win. "I knew that I needed to go into the last turn in front, because whoever did that would be hard to get past. That was all I was concentrating on, and it worked!"
The 29-year-old from Perth hailed the many spectators who packed the streets surrounding Launceston City Park. The criterium moved from its traditional flat city centre circuit home to a more challenging course in 2015, and the decision appeared to pay dividends for riders and fans alike.
"It is awesome to have so many spectators, they created a great atmosphere," said Giacoppo. "I really like the new course, and it suits me well."
Sky goodbye for Earle
After riding at the Classic last year with team-mates Chris Froome and Richie Porte, Earle was the lone Team Sky representative on Sunday in his final event representing the British outfit. Competing against former team Avanti Racing and 2016 employer Drapac Pro Cycling, Earle was pleased to conclude his time in blue and white on home soil.
"It has been a great two years with Team Sky and I could not think of a more fitting way to finish it off than in Tasmania in front of a home crowd racing against my old and new teams," admitted Earle. "When Anthony went away on the hill I was worried – he has a good kick on him. I was hoping he might have a bad day in the sprint, but not today."
Defending champion van der Ploeg's third place finish completed his Stan Siejka Classic trifecta, after several years of success at the event.
"In 2012 I came here and won, quite unexpectedly," said the former mountain biker. "In 2013 I came second, last year I won it again and this year I came third. The full podium!"
Winning feeling for Wells
Earlier in the day, Kimberley Wells (High5 Dream Team) defended her MyState Launceston Cycling Classic crown in style, saluting the sky after beating Sarah Roy (Orica-AIS) in front of large Launceston crowds.
"It is really great to take the win today in the green and gold," exclaimed Canberra-based Wells, who is also a qualified doctor. "I launched relatively early on the final climb. I took a moment or two of respite [around the top], before I shot for home."
The Launceston Cycling Festival introduced equal prize money for the women's race this year, and Wells spoke after her win about the importance of this development.
"It is huge that the MyState Launceston Cycling Classic now has the same amount of prize money as the men's race," she said. "It is a big step forward for female cycling, which is really starting to go from strength to strength."
The Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic concludes the 2015 Launceston Cycling Festival, an annual weekend of junior, masters, elite and participation riding in picturesque Tasmania.