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Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals

Tasmania, December 22, 2007 - January 19, 2008


World class action expected in Tassie

By Paul Verkuylen

Riding off the 270m mark, Jayden Veljacich
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

The Tasmania Christmas carnivals continues its evolution as the premier track racing series for the Christmas period this year. The series will include for the first time a series within the series. The event's organisers, Sports Carnivals Association of Tasmania, announced in September it had been awarded UCI status for three of the events that make up the annual track racing series, which means they now carry all important qualifying points for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The three events, Latrobe, Launceston and Devonport will each feature four events that carry UCI points; the Elite Men's sprint, Keirin and Team Sprint as well as the Elite Women's point's race. B&E Personal Banking have lent their support to the UCI Sprint series in its inaugural year which should provide the thousands of expected spectators with some exciting racing.

Grant Atkins, President of SCAT believes that the UCI series will add to the carnivals and is thrilled that B&E Personal Banking has chosen to be the naming rights sponsor for the events. "B&E Personal Banking is a great supporter of the carnivals and in particular of the cycling program and this is a real boost to the series. The action should be fast and furious, as it allows the crowds to see some of the best cyclists in the world compete."

Thirty two riders from eight countries including teams from New Zealand, USA, Malaysia as well as Scotland are venturing South in an attempt to wrestle all important Olympic qualifying points from the strong Australian squad to be headed up by Australia's National Coach Martin Barras.

Australian Institute of Sport Cycling Stars Ben Kersten, Shane Kelly, Scott Sunderland and Daniel Ellis will be need to be at their best in order to take the points for the Bejing Olympics from riders the calibre of Marco Librizzi from Scotland, Eugene Chacherine from U.S.A. and Josh Ng from Malaysia. The almost local Victorian Institute of Sport Cyclists Shane Perkins, Jason Niblitt and Mark French will also be on hand. All of whom have the ability to upstage all contenders.

Ben Kersten (right) takes out the Lightning Handicap
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Action has already begun with the pre-Christmas running of the Rosebery carnival on December 22 but riders wishing to make a name for themselves will be hoping to win the Melbourne cup on wheels, the Latrobe wheel race. Scheduled to take place on December 26, the event has a tradition which spans over 100 years, and has been the richest wheelrace on Australian soil for many years. Last years winner, Jayden Veljacich, received a handsome $12,500 for his effort.

This year's Latrobe Boxing Day Carnival will enjoy the largest ever field assembled in Tasmania with over 120 senior male cyclists, 50 female cyclists and 60 junior cyclists, an increase of over 30 percent in the past ten years.

"This UCI series is just the beginning of making the Tasmanian Christmas Carnivals the place to be for cyclists all around the world," Atkins said.

From Latrobe the track circus moves to Launceston with riders allowed just one days rest to recover from their Boxing day efforts before lining up again to do it all over again on January 28.

The very next day, January 29, riders will move location once again to Devonport where they will be faced with two days of tough competition before moving to the final carnival for the Christmas period in Burnie on New Year 's Day.

Two more carnivals follow on January 6 and 19 in Hobart and St Helens respectively.

There's still time...

Season passes for the National Grid Christmas Carnival Series are still available via the website www.tascarnivals.com. This gains entry to Latrobe, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie for $60, which is a saving of $25 off the gate entry price.

Passes will also be sold at the gate on Boxing Day only at Latrobe, so people need to get in quick if they want to take advantage of this great saving otherwise they risk missing out.

Further reading - special features on the Tasmanian Carnivals by Gerard Knapp

  • Inside the carnivals - part 1 and part 2. Fixed-gear track racing remains the drawcard at Tasmania's Christmas Carnivals, but can they maintain their long tradition and stay relevant in 2005 and beyond?
  • Team America takes the far track: A posse of American riders made the big trip south for warmer weather and hot racing in Tasmania. Gerard Knapp reports on their southern sojourn
  • An interview with Liz Williams, December 29, 2004: The Ulmer influence builds track cycling in NZ
    The Launceston Classic: How two local riders brought their dream to life. This story won the 2003 Cycling Australia Print Media award.

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