This Saturday marks the 55th running of the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic a race that has been running since 1961 firstly as a handicap then from 1979 onward as a mass start classic. While it may not be as old or as long as Australia’s other famous one day race the Melbourne to Warrnambool it certainly makes up for the those two factors with a demanding course that starts in Grafton at sea level and climbs the Gibraltar Range, crosses the Great Dividing Range and finishes in Inverell after 228km of racing.
The Grafton to Inverell is the final round of the 2015 Subaru National Road Series and while Avanti Racing Team rider Patrick Bevin has had the individual title wrapped up since the Tour of Tasmania the Teams Classification will go down to the wire with only one point separating current leaders Avanti Racing Team and Charter Mason Giant Racing Team after last weekend’s Melbourne to Warrnambool race.
New Zealand’s Patrick Bevin has already won the 2015 Subaru National Road Series title with 82 points won’t start this weekend, African Wildlife Safaris rider Michael Schweizer sits in second place on 51 points and can’t be overtaken for runner up while 2014 champion Joe Cooper (Avanti Racing Team) is currently third overall on 43 points.
Defending champion Sean Lake (African Wildlife Safaris) will pin number 1 on his jersey and attempt to be the first rider to win back to back titles.
The form is coming along really well. I had a really good run in Tasmania and I reckon I will be at a good peak for Grafton, I would absolutely love to win it back to back, that would be super special. It is such a tough and unpredictable race that the tactics will always make it hard, but going in with the best form I can I will give it my best shot. – Sean Lake
The Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic starts from Memorial Park in Grafton at 8am and covers 228km and 3,200 metres of climbing with four KOM’s including the 17km climb up the Gibratar Range, after the climb there is 140km to go as the race passes through Glenn Innes and then on to finish in Inverell. There are three intermediate sprints.
Classic Races and Winners
The Grafton to Inverell cycle race started as a handicap race and continued that way until 1978, after that it was run as a mass start race similar to the European races. The first ever winner was Olympian Alan Grindal who started on scratch and won with a time of 7:39:11.
Warrnambool rider Jamie Drew is the only rider to have won the Grafton to Inverell twice, winning in 1997 and then again in 1999 before winning the Melbourne to Warrnambool a few weeks later, Drew also won the Warrnie again in 2002.
Mark Jamieson (Team Jayco-2XU) holds the race record of 6 hours and 21 seconds (38kph) set on his way to winning the 2011 race, Jamieson beat English rider and Commonwealth games gold medalist Paul Curran’s record set in 1985 by 28 seconds.
Team Budget Forklifts have won the race more than any other team over the last decade with Malcolm Rudolph winning in 2009, Peter Herzig winning in 2012 with team mate Michael Cupitt finishing second, and in 2013 Jack Anderson won again for Budget Forklifts.
The most dominant team performance ever in the race was in 1982 when the New Zealand Commonwealth games team finished 1-2-3 with Stephen Cox winning, Jack Swart second and Blair Stockwell third. Stephen Cox also won the KOM title.
The Grafton to Inverell race has been won 9 times out of the 54 editions so far by international riders, the most recent was 2005 by New Zealand’s Greg Henderson which was notable in being one of the toughest ever with a block headwind the whole race making it one of slowest editions of the race ever. Other international winners were 2003 Hector Morales (URU), 1994 Craig Saunders (NZL), 1989 Nathan Reiss (USA), 1988 Gianluca Pierobon (ITA), 1987 Atle Pedersen (NOR), 1985 Paul Curran (GBR), 1982 Stephen Cox (NZL) and 1971 Ross Bush (NZL).
The Grafton to Inverell was a UCI International event in the years 1982, 1984, 1985 and 1987-1989 and International teams would use the race as preparation for the Commonwealth Bank Cycle Classic and even as preparation for the Commonwealth Games.
List of winners of the Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic
|Year||Winner (Team)||Fastest Time|
|2015||Sean Lake (African Wildlife Safaris)||6:01:13|
|2014||Sean Lake (African Wildlife Safaris)||6:40:26|
|2013||Jack Anderson (Budget Forklifts)||6:38:07|
|2012||Peter Herzig (Budget Forklifts)||6:13:39|
|2011||Mark Jamieson (Team Jayco-2XU)||6:00:21|
|2010||Nathan Earle (Genesys Wealth Advisers)||6:44:34|
|2009||Malcolm Rudolph (Budget Forklifts)||6:26:50|
|2008||David Pell (Savings & Loans)||6:30:03|
|2007||Cameron Hughes (Ord Minnett)||6:51:11|
|2006||Robert McLachlan (Drapac)||6:06:53|
|2005||Greg Henderson Health Net/Maxxis) (NZL)||7:19:56|
|2004||Peter McDonald (Caravello)||6:41:53|
|2003||Hector Morales (Hinchinbrook) (URU)||7:03:00|
|1994||Craig Saunders (NZL)||6:37:55|
|1989||Nathan Reiss (USA)||6:38:32|
|1988||Gianluca Pierobon (ITA)||6:39:23|
|1987||Atle Pedersen (NOR)||6:19:53|
|1985||Paul Curran (GBR)||6:00:49|
|1982||Stephen Cox (NZL)||6:24:35|
|1978||Ray Piper, (Michael Wilson)||6:37:47|
|1977||Robert Glindeman, (Gary Sutton)||7:33:00|
|1976||Remo Sansonetti, (Remo Sansonetti)||7:19:34|
|1975||Robert Hines, (Mike Glindeman)||6:38:21|
|1974||Bryan Ferris, (Terry Parkes)||7:18:17|
|1973||Vince Breen, (Alan Spokes)||6:38:08|
|1972||Kevin Brindle, (Lyn Cooper (NZL))||6:51:34|
|1971||Ross Bush (NZL), (John Trevorrow)||7:03:33|
|1970||Don Strahley, (John Trevorrow)||7:37:08|
|1969||Bruce Ryalls, (Bruce Ryall)||6:44:44|
|1968||Kevin Morgan, (Kevin Morgan)||6:23:21|
|1967||Don Wilson, (Don Wilson)||6:53:24|
|1966||Max Redman, (Timo Savimaki)||6:57:20|
|1965||Leon Cook, (Don Wilson)||6:36:02|
|1964||John Ferranda, (Vic Adams)||7:04:50|
|1963||Norm Burnell, (Jim Lloyd)||7:23:23|
|1962||Phil Chapman, (Jim Lloyd)||7:19:47|
|1961||Alan Grindal, (Alan Grindal)||7:39:11|
* Between 1961 and 1978 the race was a handicap format, the fastest time winner is in brackets beside the first over line winner.
Good to luck to all the National Road Series riders this weekend, you can follow the race on twitter using #G2I15 and then watch the action on the Cycling Australia YouTube channel.
TBL – The Bike Lane