Trailblazing Tassie trio took on the world

In 2012 when Tom Sawyer and Stan Siejka dreamed up the concept of the Launceston Cycling Classic while out for a bike ride together, they knew they had something going for them, if they managed to pull it off.

Road cycling was beginning to boom across the nation.There were a swag of Australian stars who were not only household names in Europe but doing so well that even their countrymen and women knew who they were.

Get them here for a criterium-style race around the streets of inner Launceston and it was sure to be a success. Sawyer delivered the riders and the people of Launceston came out in droves.

What they didn’t know at the time is that the race would become the playground of a brood of young roosters from Tasmania – then unidentified but soon to make their mark.

FINISH LINE: Although Matthew Goss (L), Bernie Sulzberger, and Wes Sulzberger (R) are hanging up the lycra after Sunday, they proved you can have an international cycling career and have it from Tasmania. Picture: Phillip Biggs

FINISH LINE: Although Matthew Goss (L), Bernie Sulzberger, and Wes Sulzberger (R) are hanging up the lycra after Sunday, they proved you can have an international cycling career and have it from Tasmania. Picture: Phillip Biggs

Now – it is perhaps the exact opposite when the city again hosts this fine event.

Whilst Australian cycling is enjoying a resurgence through a crop of talented new riders, the curtain will fall on the careers of three of those Tasmanians.

Brothers Bernie and Wes Sulzberger and their mate, Matthew Goss will each call it quits after Sunday’s men’s race.

They have been outstanding role models for their fellow Tasmanians. For much of their international careers each resided overseas but they came home often.

They proved emphatically that you can indeed do it from Tasmania –  in fact demonstrating to the world that in their sport is a damn good place to do it from.

The road career of Matthew Goss is so decorated with both grand tour stage and spring classic victories that it is easy to forget that he was once a star of the track at the highest level – winning world championships gold and Commonwealth Games silver.

When Bernie was unable to accept a ride with a world tour team in the 2005 Herald Sun Tour due to a pre-existing commitment, he recommended his younger brother.

Few sibling gestures can have been so generous. Wes, then just 18, made the most of his chance to support Simon Gerrans at AG2r Prevoyance. By race end he was being feted as a member of the winning team and hailed a star of the future after finishing an incredible 11th on general classification, a little more than three minutes behind his victorious team leader.

What followed was a fine career. And big brother’s wasn’t too bad either - developing a reputation as a much sought after team-man, who when the chance arose could carve out individual accolades as well.

Perhaps, even if we don’t know who they are, the replacement generation might be quietly emerging before our very eyes.

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