Testing times call for innovation and that is exactly what drew nearly 130 riders to a first in the Tasmanian grade-based road championships.
Normally run as age-based titles, the host Launceston City Cycling Club and Cycling Tasmania took a punt on something different and the result was one of the biggest races seen in years.
Not only did the different approach attract riders from all ages, grades and corners of the state, but COVID meant A-grade included a number of pro level cyclists who would otherwise be around the world racing.
Put together with some very competitive local amateurs, racing was fast and fierce, made all the more interesting by a solid northerly wind.
Despite headwinds and crosswinds, two breakaways held out until the last lap of a well-attended A-grade race.
Colliding with a stopping TV motorbike while enjoying a potentially podium-delivering breakaway could be dismissed as a freak occurrence ... if it was a one-off.@LeTour owes @richie_porte a break - preferably not of the bone variety, again.https://t.co/0GDNEMtzVk— Rob Shaw (@TheShawThing) August 24, 2020
The two front bunches came together for an all-out sprint from a group of eight. Jason Lea, who rides with Continental team Maloja Pushbikers, led home fellow Hobartians Scott Bowden and Ben Van Dam, who both ride for the Continental Team BridgeLane.
Coming in a credible fourth was Burnie's Dalton Stretton on his A-grade debut.
Sprint finishes also mostly decided the rest of the grades.
B-grade saw strong Burnie local Jordan Matthews take gold in a two-up sprint ahead of Launceston's Paul McKenzie. The rest of the bunch was close behind with Mark Loan taking the sprint for third.
A big mix of male and female C-grade riders saw Launceston's FHaT rider Scott Schilg pip Harley Aitken and Greig Watson on the line. Hobart's Sydney Uni-Staminade rider Nicole Frain picked up fifth place and first female.
D-grade was another triumph for the females with Launceston track cyclist Lauren Perry claiming gold in a sprint from Scott Bellis and Marlon Von Moger.
Andrew Macdonald won E-grade and Ross Jenkins proved too strong in F.
Father's Day is fast approaching and what every dad wants is a semi-amusing book about Tasmanian sport. But I may be a bit biased.https://t.co/8AKGz5AuXa ($29.95) published by @fortysouthtas still available.— Rob Shaw (@TheShawThing) August 21, 2020
DM me or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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In the under-17 men, Launceston's in-form Hamish McKenzie broke away to a solo win ahead of Burnie's Hayden van Der Ploeg and Launceston's Sam McKee.
Mia Brown rode to a convincing victory in the women, followed by Ebony Rainbow and Eugenie O'Rourke.
The under-15 women's race was dominated by Meika Derrico, of Devonport, who won from new road rider Maya Martin and Chloe Jordan.
Burnie's Alex Eaves proved too strong to take the men's title from Devonport's Vinnie Manion and mountain bike champ Oliver Sims.
Thomas Blazley took a convincing win in the under-13 men from Monty Manion and Kyle Jordan with Sybille O'Rourke holding off Julia Whighton and new rider Addison Brumby for the women's title.
Sid Natera and the irrepressible Rory Stretton won the under-11 titles.
The next race on the calendar is the popular Deloraine to Launceston on Saturday followed by the Hobart Wheelers' Broadmarsh Time Trial on Sunday.
More details can be found on the Cycling Tasmania webpage and Facebook site.