Revamp for Tassie carnivals

THIS year's Tasmanian Christmas Sports Carnivals will boast an eight-day program, after a criterium race overhaul was announced by carnival promotions director John Craven yesterday.

John Howe takes out the men's gift at last year's Latrobe Carnival. The Tasmanian Christmas carnivals series will be expanded to eight days this year.

John Howe takes out the men's gift at last year's Latrobe Carnival. The Tasmanian Christmas carnivals series will be expanded to eight days this year.

The carnivals will now feature seven municipalities, including Meander Valley, Launceston, Latrobe, Central Coast, Devonport, Burnie and Kentish, along with four closed circuit cycling street races.

Criteriums will be held in Westbury, Ulverstone, Burnie and Sheffield.

The Launceston Carnival - hailed as the highlight of the 2013-14 event - will also celebrate its 30th year.

Craven said the expansion was a concerted effort to make the overall track and road schedule more attractive to top-rated interstate and overseas bike riders.

``It is exciting to have overwhelming backing from the three new municipalities, Meander Valley, Central Coast and Kentish, in the carnivals,'' he said.

``They will give the series a fresh injection of enthusiasm.''

The eight-day spectacle was also designed to take the heat off Burnie's New Years Day meeting, in the hope that more interstate riders would compete in both events.

``There has been a tendency in the past for some riders to skip Burnie and head back to the mainland for other events,'' Craven said.

``We are endeavouring to persuade cyclists to concentrate totally on Tasmania during the post Christmas-New Year period. 

``We are saying to the competitors: Have Christmas Day at home with your families, but head over to Tasmania on Boxing Day for eight days of terrifically rewarding and enjoyable competition in a pristine and friendly place.''

The rejuvenated carnivals program has already turned heads.

Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania president Mike Gunson yesterday praised the move and said the decision showed what the state was capable of.

``The tourism opportunities in this expanded program are enormous for Tasmania,'' Gunson said. 

``It's important to attract the competitors to Tassie for the eight-day series, but what about their families, friends and associated spectators? They can watch some great sport, but also visit our countless tourist attractions. 

``All this is part of revitalising the carnivals culture. Our enthusiasm for these changes is sky-high and we will make them work.''

This year's Tasmanian Christmas Sports Carnival will run from December 26 until January 6, 2015.

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