Classic puts city's assets on show

THOUSANDS of people lined the streets of Launceston late yesterday as cyclists in the Stan Siejka Classic raced around the city's central business district.

The event started at 3pm with the under-15s but it was the elite men's challenge that drew the biggest crowd, intermittent rain no dampener to their enthusiasm.

Children rode trikes as parents and friends stood riveted to the action on the bitumen. Invited guests took advantage of the free finger food from their vantage position on St John Street.

Race chairman David Martin said that since he took on the role about four years ago he had worked at making the event appeal to a wider audience.

Additions to the usual cycling offerings included a running race and BMX demonstration.

``We've been trying to make it interesting and elevate all parts of it so cyclists feel they have to come,'' he said.

``It's getting better each year.

``It's a finely tuned process to make the program as stress-free as possible.''

Mr Martin said the course, which has cyclists racing around St John, York, George and Cimitiere streets, was carefully planned to ensure Launceston's architectural assets were on display.

He said he had spoken to many tourists who had happily chanced upon the event.

Mr Martin said the organising team was encouraged by the Opposition's funding pledge of $75,000 to telecast the event if it were to win next year's state election.

``It would be great to see the current government do the same,'' Mr Martin said.

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