Victorian wins short course

Darren Lapthorne

VICTORIAN rider Darren Lapthorne was the winner of today’s drastically shortened Launceston to New Norfolk Classic. Deteriorating weather conditions in the central highlands last night forced the organisers to eliminate the tough Poatina hill climb and start the race in Bothwell for a 65km run to New Norfolk.

Winner Lapthorne had been looking forward to the chance to attack the brutal mountain stage and was disheartened when it was excluded from today’s course due to dangerous conditions. Despite the disappointment, he was delighted to win the shorter Bothwell to New Norfolk course. “Every race is important and I think this race will become quite a big race in the future,” he said. “It really is an honour to be on the honour roll and you never complain when you have a win.”

The decision to alter the course was made last night after roads from the Poatina Village to the Great Lake area were closed because they were covered in snow. Rather than the 208km trek, riders completed a 65km journey from Bothwell to New Norfolk. “I was disappointed because the longer the race, the better for me,” Lapthorne said. “I thought it was going to be a day for the sprinters but there were still a few good climbs in there, so
the terrain made the race hard enough.”

A leading group of about 15 riders made a move early, stretching the gap to more than two minutes approaching the halfway mark of the race. “We only had three guys in there – myself, Rhys (Pollock) and Floris (Goesinnen),” Lapthorne said. “We thought that the only way to win was to get away. I attacked with about five kilometres to go with Nathan Earle. With about three kilometres to go, I went and had a good run to the finish.”

29-year-old Lapthorne’s triumph meant he firmed as favourite for the Tour of
Tasmania, which starts in Hobart on Tuesday with a team time trial to the top of Mount Wellington. “I felt pretty good today and I think it was important for our team and me to have a good day,” the 2007 national road champion said. “(The Tour of Tasmania) is the race to win this year. It was good for the confidence to get this win.”

Rounding out the podium today were Nathan Earle and Jai Crawford, with the former winning the King of the Mountains while the sprint champion was Peter Loft. The B Grade champion was Tasmanian Ben Grenda while Joshua Prete clinched C Grade and the top rider in the under 23 category was Trent Derecourt.

The six-day Tour of Tasmania will showcase seven municipalities – Hobart, Derwent Valley, Central Highlands, Meander Valley, Central Coast, Burnie and Devonport. The brand new Derwent Valley stage from New Norfolk to Strathgordon, starting at 9.30am.

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