THE universally-acclaimed next big thing in Australian cycling promised to return to Launceston next year after claiming last night's Stan Siejka Cycling Classic.
Sydney's former junior world track champion Caleb Ewan lived up to his pre-race favouritism by winning a sprint finish on an action-packed night in the CBD.
The 19-year-old's impressive credentials see him join Orica-GreenEDGE at the end of the month but he hoped his elite commitments would not prevent him defending his title.
``I'll try extra hard,'' Ewan told a crowd of about 5000.
``Next year I'll be in the ProTour but will definitely try and come back because it's a great crit.
``There has not been a crowd this big at a crit I've been to which makes the win more special and is great for cycling.''
Ewan led home Victoria's reigning champion Neil Van Der Ploeg who edged out West Australian Anthony Giacoppo by just four-thousandths of a second with Launceston's Ben Grenda adding a fourth to his second and third of the last two years.
Lauren Kitchen made it a New South Wales double in the women's race while Melbourne riders dominated the juniors and Hobart's Allan Glover upstaged a host of home-town challengers to defend his masters title.
The tenth running of the classic provided another feast of free entertainment prompting some high-profile praise.
SBS's veteran Tour de France reporter Mike Tomalaris provided both commentary and compliments.
``I genuinely believe this is one of the best, if not the best, crits in Australia,'' he said.
``That's because of the enthusiasm of the crowd, the calibre of the riders and the fact that Launceston and Tasmania are enriched with cycling history.''