Competition heats up in classic

LAUNCESTON'S festival of cycling weekend continued yesterday as some of the top senior cyclists in the country warmed up for today's Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic by racing a hot lap and kermesse in perfect conditions at Symmons Plains Raceway.

Riding against the clock in a one-lap sprint, last year's classic winner in South Australian Neil Van Der Ploeg (Search2retain) showed he will again be among the contenders in tonight's criterium with the fastest time and lap record of 2 minutes 58 seconds.

Tasmanian Will Clarke (Argos-Shimano) also showed he has good leg speed to finish second on 2:59, with New South Wales rider Mark Bevin (Search2retain) third with a three-minute flat time.

An hour-long kermesse around the circuit of 60 minutes and two laps followed with Victorian Shannon Johnson emerging victorious.

``Huon-Genesys were very aggressive and attacking throughout with a lot of breaks trying to get away, which were eventually pulled back,'' Cycling Classic committee member Nigel Baker said.

``It came down to a bunched sprint. Coming into the final corner, one of the riders hit his pedal on the ground and caused a few of them to baulk a bit.

``Johnson (Charter Mason) won the sprint to the line from Launceston's Ben Grenda (Team Polygon) and world pro-tour rider Steele Von Hoff (Garmin Sharp).''

About 70 elite male riders took part in the Symmons Plains racing ahead of today's Stan Siejka Classic criterium around the streets of the Launceston CBD.

CYCLING FACTS

WHAT: Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic.

WHEN: 7pm, Sunday, December 8.

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

PROGRAM: 3pm under 15s (20 minutes + 2 laps); 3.30pm under 17s (25 minutes + 2 laps); 4pm masters (30 minutes + 2 laps); 5pm elite women (30 minutes + 2 laps); 6pm 5 kilometre state road championships; 7pm elite men (1 hour + 2 laps).

HOW MUCH: Free.

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