New Zealand's Sharlotte Lucas wins elite women's race at Launceston Cycling Classic

Under way: Start of the elite men's race of the Launceston Classic.
Under way: Start of the elite men's race of the Launceston Classic.

A week before heading to New Zealand for the Oceania Track Championships, Macey Stewart fell foul of a Kiwi.

Devonport’s multiple junior world champion appeared well-placed to claim her home-state criterium only to be outgunned by Sharlotte Lucas on the final corner.

After 35 minutes and two laps, Lucas, 26, who hails from Hokitika, shadowed Stewart up the final climb before snatching victory on the Lawrence Street roundabout to claim the $3000 first prize.

Leaning powers: Elite women's winner Sharlotte Lucas leads Josie Talbot into Tamar Street.

Leaning powers: Elite women's winner Sharlotte Lucas leads Josie Talbot into Tamar Street.

“It’s the first time I’ve raced this and it’s got a great atmosphere,” said the Roxsolt Attaquer rider who had done much of the front-running during the race.

“I’ve done a couple of NRS races in Tasmania, including the Mersey Valley Tour, and I quite like hills so this course suited me.

“This is quite a big race with a lot of media interest so it’s awesome to win it. I’ve won a silver medal in New Zealand nationals but this is definitely one of my coolest wins.

“It’s quite expensive to get here from New Zealand so we’ll split the money around the team.”

Winner: Sharlotte Lucas.

Winner: Sharlotte Lucas.

A decisive four-rider break formed mid-race and eventually saw Stewart (TIS Racing) come in second ahead of Josie Talbot (Specialized) and Matilda Raynolds (Rush).

“I thought I had you,” Stewart told Lucas when they shook hands after the race.

“I thought you did too for a second,” Lucas replied.

Familiar face: Former Launceston rider Holly Ranson enjoyed the trip back home.

Familiar face: Former Launceston rider Holly Ranson enjoyed the trip back home.

The 21-year-old Tasmanian blamed a tactical error for failing to clinch the win.

“I’m a bit devastated because I knew whoever was first going into the roundabout would win and I just lost my line into the corner,” Stewart said.

“I really thought I was in for the win, but that’s bike racing.

Uphill task: Matilda Raynolds leads the climb up Lawrence Street.

Uphill task: Matilda Raynolds leads the climb up Lawrence Street.

“Overall I was really happy. My form is better than I thought and I was stoked to get out there and get racing.

“I was really happy with my race, it was an awesome day, the weather was great, so was the crowd and it was another successful Launnie crit.”

In form: Victorian James Whelan played a lead role in both the Tour of Tasmania and Launceston Classic.

In form: Victorian James Whelan played a lead role in both the Tour of Tasmania and Launceston Classic.

Stewart’s consolation came in taking out the sprint classification in what is the first of three races in a national criterium series with others to follow in Sydney and Melbourne.

Next Saturday Stewart will join TIS teammate Lauren Perry, of Launceston, on a plane to Cambridge in New Zealand to contest the Oceania track titles, both still hopeful of breaking into Australia’s Commonwealth Games team.

Purple reign: Macey Stewart leads from the front.

Purple reign: Macey Stewart leads from the front.

Earlier this week Stewart, who won the under-23 title and finished fourth overall in this year’s National Road Series, announced that she had been signed by pro team Wiggle High5 for 2018.

The TIS team’s NRS success helped it land an invitation to compete in January’s Tour Down Under.