Preparations are nearly complete for next Saturday's Eastmon Digital Photo Stores Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic, considered Australia's premier one-day race. A solid field of over 190 cyclists will tackle the 228 km course starting in Prince Street, Grafton, around 7:30am on September 16 and the first riders will finish in Otho Street, Inverell, around 2:30pm. The Women’s race will finish in Glen Innes with the winner expected to arrive around 1pm.
The combined C and D Grades along with the women competitors will be the first to leave at 7:30am. The A and B grade will start at 8:15 with the winners expected to complete the course in around 6 hours and 30 minutes. Riders ranging from 20 years-old to 72 year-old Peter Brown from Port Macquarie make up the record field. Ambitions at the start line vary from taking a prestigious victory in the A Grade elite race to finishing in a personal best time.
Fresh from winning the Tour of the Murray River in Victoria, Robert McLachlan will be one of the favourites in the A Grade section. Thirty five year-old McLachlan has been in great form and the former Olympian will have a great chance in the 228km classic.
Winner of the 2004 race, Peter McDonald will return for a shot to join Victorian Jamie Drew as the only rider to win two Grafton to Inverell’s. McDonald is part of the Colnago-Caravello club in Sydney and is sure to figure in the results. Parramatta rider Trent Wilson will return from a successful season in America and will be looking to improve on his already impressive third in 2002 and fourth last year.
A host of up and coming U23 riders will also make their mark in the A Grade section: Victorian Patrick Shaw was tipped by inaugural race winner Alan Grindal as a possible winner of last year's race and was in a good position until a fall in Glen Innes saw the young rider taken to hospital.
The Women’s 160km race from Grafton to Glen Innes will see 14 competitors line up, starting with the Men’s C & D grades. Kate Nichols has been tipped as an early favourite. Nichols will have the added bonus of her father Kevin, an Olympic Games Gold Medallist in 1984, starting with her in the C Grade section and having local knowledge of the course as he is a Grafton native.
Fresh from the Junior World Championships. Tiffany Cromwell has been given special permission to start the event and will be a rider to be watched. Leonnie Aisbett and Vicki Eustace are both in good form as well.