Man of steel nails Classic

Steele Von Hoff, left, racing his Russian opponents to the line

VICTORIAN rider Steele Von Hoff today stamped himself as a rising star of Australian cycling with a stunning victory in the gruelling Launceston to New Norfolk Classic today. The former Melbourne boilermaker trounced the highly-rated Russian duo of Alexander Serov and Olympic triple medallist Alexi Markov in a thrilling sprint finish in Circle St at the end of 208km.

Von Hoff, 23, finished in five hours, 22 minutes and nine seconds. The wilderness journey included a 12km climb up 1000m at Poatina where he struggled to remain in touch with the peleton, but was urged on by his team-mates, including last year’s winner Patrick Shaw.

A former triathlete and mountain-bike rider, Von Hoff has been a full-time cyclist for only the past six months. Von Hoff described his Launceston-New Norfolk victory as the biggest and most important of his career. “I had never raced so far before and the course, boy it was hard,” he said. “My team-mates pulled themselves inside out for me. I needed to win a long, tough race.”

Von Hoff has been the target of speculation that he will receive an attractive contract with an international trade team in Europe next year. His victory today, in idyllic sunshine, will certainly help, especially with the seven-man Russian national team so prominent.

Markov and Serov looked to have the spoils safely in their keeping as the remains of the 73-strong peleton sped into the short home straight at the Derwent Valley Council Chambers in New Norfolk. But Von Hoff mastered incredible speed and determination over the final 50m to pip them on the line in a three-way photo finish.

Steele Von Hoff

The winners celebrate their victory

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