More than two decades ago a young Tasmanian footballer turned to cycling to get fit and never went back.
Exeter Magpies’ loss was Cycling Australia’s gain.
“I wanted to play mini-league football,” Bernard Sulzberger recalled this week after announcing his impending retirement from the bike.
“I got into cycling to keep fit in the pre-season but never went back to football.”
With cycling parents and siblings, Sulzberger’s second-choice sport was to dominate his future culminating in a decade-long pro career featuring five teams and countless kilometres across the roads of Australia, Asia, Europe and America.
The former Exeter primary, high and Launceston College student completed a two-year traineeship as a watchmaker with Tasmanian cycling stalwart Mark Matthews in the Quadrant Mall before embarking on his globe-trotting journey.
In 2007 he won the mountains classification of the Herald-Sun Tour, was crowned Australian criterium champion the following year and then claimed his home-state Tour of Tasmania in 2009.
Enjoying his best years with Fly V Australia, Team Raleigh and most recently Drapac alongside brother Wes and fellow Tasmanian Will Clarke, Sulzberger added stage wins in the Tour of Utah, Tour of Atlanta, Tour de Beauce, International Cycling Classic and Bay Crits.
He came fourth in the Australian road race championships in 2011 and second at Oceanias three years later.
He said his career highlights were claiming the Tour of Tasmania and the Australian criterium crown plus spending three years with Fly V Australia in the US.
“The majority of the guys on the team were Aussies so that was a great time,” he said.
“It’s all been pretty good but they are the highlights.”
In 2013 Sulzberger added the Tour of Taiwan to his palmares but he said 2016 was a difficult year despite claiming a top-10 finish and stage podium in this month’s Tour of Tasmania.
“I have not had the results I would have wanted this year and it’s hard to get a team without that,” he said.
“It was a hard decision because I’ve been doing it for a while now. I started riding aged about 10 while at Exeter Primary School and I will be 33 in December.”
Looking to the future with wife Katie and sons Bentley, 3, and Stafford, four months, Sulzberger said he hoped to stay involved in cycling.
“There’s a few things I’m looking at but nothing nailed down yet. We’ll see what comes up.”
Announcing his retirement decision on Facebook, Sulzberger received good wishes from throughout the Tasmanian cycling fraternity including elite riders Jai Crawford, Sean Sullivan, Karl Menzies, Danny Clark and Graeme Gilmore.