• Anthony Giacoppo returned to sprint for at the Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic (ESi Sports Photography) (ESi Sports Photography))Source: ESi Sports Photography)
Anthony Giacoppo and Kimberley Wells have been crowned Launceston Cycling Classic champions.
Cycling Central

7 Dec 2015 - 8:53 AM 
Former Australian national criterium champion Anthony Giacoppo (Avanti Racing) won the 2015 University of Tasmania Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic after outsprinting Nathan Earle (Team Sky).

Giacoppo led a breakaway with only four laps to go, holding a small lead from the fast-chasing peloton on the final Lawrence Street climb. He then burst away to enter the final turn at the front, besting Earle on the final straight in the Tasmanian’s last race in Team Sky colours.

“2015 has been a relatively slow year on the bike for me due to a few injuries, so to come back on top is fantastic,” Giacoppo said. “I knew that I needed to go into the last turn in front, because whoever did that would be hard to get past. That was all I was concentrating on, and it worked."

The 29-year-old from Perth hailed the many spectators who packed the streets surrounding Launceston City Park. The criterium moved from a flat city centre circuit to a more challenging course with a punchy climb for 2015, and the decision appeared to pay dividends for riders and fans alike.

“It is awesome to have so many spectactors at a race like this, they created a great atmosphere,” Giacoppo said. “I really like the new course, and it suits me well.”

After riding the race last year with team-mates Chris Froome and Richie Porte, Earle was the lone Team Sky representative on Sunday in his final event representing the British outfit. Racing against former team Avanti Racing and 2016 employer Drapac Pro Cycling, Earle was pleased to conclude his time in blue and white on home soil.

“It has been a great two years with Team Sky and I could not think of a more fitting way to finish it off than in Tasmania in front of a home crowd racing against my old and new teams,” Earle said. “When Anthony went away on the hill I was worried, he has a good kick on him. I was hoping he might have a bad day in the sprint, but not today.”

Giacoppo’s team-mate Neil van der Ploeg, the defending champion, finished in third to complete the Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic trifecta after several successful years at the event.

“In 2012 I came here and won, quite unexpectedly,” van der Ploeg said. “In 2013 I came second, last year I won it again and this year I came third. The full podium."

Kimberley Wells (High5 Dream Team) defended her MyState Launceston Cycling Classic crown, saluting the sky after beating Sarah Roy (Orica-AIS) and team-mate Kendelle Hodges in front of large Launceston crowds.

The national criterium champion positioned herself perfectly on the final climb, sprinting away to finish just ahead of a fast closing Roy.

“It is really great to take the win today in the green and gold,” Wells said. “I launched relatively early on the final climb. I took a moment or two of respite around the ‘peanut gallery’, as they were calling it, before I shot for home. It was really great out there today.”

The Launceston Cycling Festival introduced equal prize money for the women’s race this year, and Wells spoke after her win about the importance of this development.

“It is huge that the MyState Launceston Cycling Classic now has the same amount of prize money as the men’s race”, she said. “It is a big step forward for female cycling, which is really starting to go from strength to strength.” 

Wells also paid her respects the Baker family, including Australian track representative Georgia Baker and Launceston Cycling Festival Race Director Nigel Baker, who lost their father/brother earlier in the year.

“High5 Dream Team were really keen to get down to Tasmania, the home state of our team-mate Georgia Baker,” Wells said. “The Baker family suffered a tragedy this year with the loss of Georgia’s father suddenly and unexpectedly. In coming down here to race in front of these amazing crowds, we would like to pay our respects and send our love to the Baker family. When crossing the finish-line today I had the family on my mind.”

Second-placed Roy, who helped team-mate Chloe McConville to victory at Saturday’s kermesse, endured a frustrating day at the office.

“I am pretty disappointed I could not get past Kimberley at the end,” Roy said. “I felt really good during the kermesse out at Longford, but I guess I just did not have the legs today.”

Although Orica-AIS led several moves throughout the day, the professional outfit was marked by High5 Dream Team and were unable to follow Saturday’s victory with more success.

“We had a really good crack out there. Chloe McConville and I had a few attacks at different points, but it was all back together on the final lap. Kimberley just had stronger legs taking it over that hill first.”

 SBS will broadcast highlights of the Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic on Sunday 3 January from 4pm.