The passing of Dr Stan Siejka will leave a huge hole in northern Tasmania's development for cycling, writes Mike Tomalaris.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:36 PM

The passing of Dr Stan Siejka will leave a huge hole in northern Tasmania's development for cycling.
Dr Siejka was tragically killed in a skiing accident during a holiday in New Zealand this past week.
As the only neurologist in Tasmania's north, he leaves behind a
huge hole in the areas medical field, and as one of the pioneers of the
Launceston International Classic, cycling has lost a genuine visionary
to the sport.
Stan "fell in love" with cycling not long before falling in love
with the Tour de France - his passion quickly grew another level by
joining a group at weekend morning rides and watching the daily
coverage on SBS.
I first made contact with him in 2002 when he raised the idea of hosting a criterium around the streets of Launceston.
The hook was to attract Australia's Tour de France riders to his home town. It goes without saying he succeeded.
To bring the likes of Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Baden Cooke
and Brad McGee, along with several of Australia's up-and-comers who
have since ridden in many of Europe's big races, to the Apple Isle
in late December when cycling is traditionally enjoying a recess, was a
huge achievement.
Such was Stan's will to develop the cycling culture in his state.
Prior to 2002, Tasmania had set the benchmark for attracting big-name track cyclists for its annual Christmas Carnival meets.
So when more than 10,000 people (one-seventh of Launceston's
population) lined the streets in the twilight on that summer's evening,
it was obvious the Launceston International Classic was a hit in its
first year.
Along with local identity and former professional cyclist Tom
Sawyer, Stan sought about securing sponsorship and local
government funding to the event.
The event has gained momentum every year since and it's hoped
Launceston's cycling community will continue to support the event
without Stan's influence.
Dr Stan Siejka is a classic example of a sports enthusiast who turned to cycling without having competed at an elite level.
Here was a man keen to spread cycling's gospel and share the passion with those who wanted to listen and learn.
I extend my deepest heartfelt sympathies to his family and friends.