A RECORD number of entries has been received for this weekend's Launceston to New Norfolk Classic, which has been described as Australia's most spectacular and challenging one-day bike race. The fourth running of the 208km race will be held this Sunday, starting from the Country Club Casino Tasmania, at 9am. Some 76 competitors have been confirmed, up from the previous record of riders last year.
The classic achieved instant notoriety in its inaugural staging in 2009 when only seven riders outlasted brutally tough conditions to complete the exceptionally challenging course. The race was a triumph for Tasmania's Bernard Sulzberger who went on to win the Tour of Tasmania held a few days later.
Ballarat's Patrick Shaw slogged to victory in the 2010 classic, before winning the Scody Cup, Australia's most prestigious road cycling series. After a thrilling finish, last year's honors went to Steele Von Hoff. At the time, Von Hoff - who has since advanced to the international stage - described the victory as the biggest and most important of his career.
After Departing Launceston, the classic follows a course through Longford, Cressy, Poatina, Arthur's Lake, Steppes, Bothwell, Hollow Tree, Rosegarland, Gretna, Hayes and Lawitta before finishing in New Norfolk around 2pm, opposite the visitor information centre.
There will be 13 intermediate sprints and seven hill climbs along the route. Like last year, the event will offer special incentives to women and to male under 23 riders. Sections for the under 23 men and open women will be conducted over 143km from Launceston to Bothwell.