Team in orange juices up classic

TOUR de France frontrunner Richie Porte said whenever he attempted to make a move in last year's Launceston Cycling Classic he felt he had ``four or five orange shadows''.

He would not have minded as the presence of those shadows was not only a reflection of his danger but a reminder of his development.

The distinctive orange colours of the Genesys team have become a major feature of this race and many others around Australia and Asia.

Formerly named Praties and soon-to-be Avanti, the Tasmanian-based team was created by Andrew Christie-Johnston and has launched the careers of World Tour pros like Porte, Will Clarke and, as from 2014, Nathan Earle.

While off-season European commitments with Team Sky will prevent Porte having another crack at his hometown criterium on Sunday, his mentor will once again bring another orange army big on quality as well as quantity.

``We always rack up with a fairly strong squad,'' Christie-Johnston admitted.

``We always have a training camp around this time of year and try and include this race as part of that. It's perfect timing to do that and take part in a good, classy race and being a Tasmanian it's always been a nice race to show the cycling supporters here our riders.

``It's got some great history and some big names have won it so we take it very seriously.''

The squad is indeed oozing talent headed by 2012 Australian criterium champion Anthony Giacoppo and his regular leadout man Brenton Jones who won his last race at the Tour of Southlands in New Zealand.

``They are our biggest chances in a sprint but Campbell Flakemore and other guys are capable of winning in smaller bunches. He was fourth in the world under-23 time trial and could become that world champion next year.''

Launceston duo Alex Clements and Tom Robinson are also in the team along with Sam Davis, Jono Lovelock, Aaron Donnelly, Jack Beckinsale, Ben Dyball, Jack Haig, Joseph Cooper and new arrival Scott Law eager to make up the seven-thousandths of a second that denied him victory last year.

Christie-Johnston will be losing the services of Earle (Sky), Jai Crawford (Drapac) and Kane Walker and Pat Shaw to a West Australian NRS team next year but has picked up 2012 NRS champ Mark O'Brien from the British Raleigh team, reigning classic champion Neil Van Der Ploeg from Search2Retain, former mountain biker Luke Fetch from NRS team Seight plus Mitchell Lovelock-Fay and Taylor Gunman from Danish and Belgian continental teams.

The 16-strong team faces 100-plus racing days next year in the NRS and across Asia.

As for a favourite for Sunday, Christie-Johnston modestly limited selections to his rivals.

``Look out for Steele Von Hoff [Garmin Sharp]. We always invite our World Tour riders to our camp and he said he would like to have a good crack at the crit. 

``But Caleb Ewan [World Tour Academy] would have to be the favourite. He won the Bay Crits last year. You don't do that with the top sprinters they have there unless you're a classy rider and he is a top-class act.

``If it comes down to a bunch sprint expect it to be between him, Steele and Matt Goss [Orica GreenEDGE] although Caleb beat Matt in all four races at the Bay Crits last year so he's got history.

6pt UNIV INTO HELIOS; Starts in UNIV, breakback goes to helios, loops on breakbacks.PROGRAM:  3pm: under-15s (20 mins + 2 laps); 3.30pm: under-17s (25 mins + 2 laps); 4pm: masters (30 mins + 2 laps); 5pm: elite women (30 mins + 2 laps); 6pm: 5km state road championships; 7pm: elite men (1 hour + 2 laps).


WHAT: Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic.

WHEN: 7pm, Sunday.

WHERE: Criterium around St John, York, George and Cimitiere streets.


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