Nathan Earle (Genesys Wealth Advisers) held off late-race breakaway companion Brendan Brooks (Shortis.com.au) in a two man sprint on the streets of Inverell to take the 50th Grafton-Inverell title. Sydney’s Sam Rutherford (Team Bike Bug) won the sprint for third place sevon seconds behind the sprint for victory.
“I don’t think I took a breath down the entire finishing straight,” said Earle. “It’s unreal, just unreal, I never thought I’d win today. I came to help my teammates but it all just sort of worked out in my favour and towards the end there I just had nothing left but I still managed to win. I’m just speechless.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get him, Brendan was so strong out there,” he added. “When we got away on that last climb I didn’t think I was going to be able to hold it, I had nothing left in my legs but I just gritted my teeth.”
Lachlan Morton (Garmin-Transitions) applied relentless pressure to the peloton early on the day’s main climb, forcing some 20 riders immediately off the back. Genesys Wealth Advisers showed its intentions early by launching Nathan Haas in a solo move up the Gibraltar Range.
Hass crested the climb to 1200 metres with an eight minute lead over a chase group of 17, while defending champion Malcolm Rudolph (Jayco Skins) was stuck back in a second chase group. Geoff Straub (Mcdonagh Blake) wasn’t happy with missing the chase group, so bridged solo across to the leaders once after the 15 kilometre climb.
Hass dropped back to the chase group after the first feed zone, where he joined teammate Earle. The pair won few friends as the race headed towards Glen Innes, with neither pulling a turn despite having more numbers than most squads in the group. Their breakaway companions showed their displeasure at the tactic through both verbal stoushes and sitting up, causing the peloton to close to as close as 3:30 minutes.
“It’s all part of bike racing, but it’s a bit strange what they were doing: they didn’t want to work, even though they had two guys in the break,” said Brooks. “Eventually we did get them to work but Nathan was clearly still pretty fresh at the end.”
As frustration grew in the lead group David Melville (Merida/Data #3) and Chris Beeck (Plan B) decided they were sick of waiting and went clear as the race reached Glen Innes. The pair worked well together to draw out a 500 metre gap on the chasers, but the 15-odd riders never let the duo out of sight and caught the pair shortly after the second feedzone about 60 kilometres out from Inverell.
It was David Evans (KOM) that attacked the group next, with Rutherford and Brian McLeod (Budget Forklifts). The trio powered over the following ensuing 15 kilometres, swapping off turns in a demonstration of cohesion that had been lacking from the group behind.
With three riders off the front and the finish line nearing Genesys Wealth Advisers’ riders started to pull turns to bring the trio back. The group was caught with 20 kilometres remaining, before Earle and Brooks went clear.
The duo quickly built a margin of 35 seconds and while they couldn’t build on it, the pair managed it on the run into Inverell. The lead whittled away through the streets of Heinrich Haussler’s home town, but they maintained a 13 second advantage as they sprinted towards the finish line.
“I didn’t feel that much at ease because we didn’t have too much of a gap and I think fatigue was starting to set in for both of us,” said Brooks of the approach to Inverell’s finish line. “I was never confident until halfway up the finishing straight. I was still racing for the win and unfortunately it didn’t happen, but I’ll keep coming back until I do.
“I’m still really happy with second place – it’s a great way to finish off the year,” he said.
|1||Nathan Earle (Genesys Wealth Advisors)||6:44:34|
|2||Brendan Brooks (Shortis.com.au Cycling Team)|
|3||Sam Rutherford (Team Bike Bug)||0:00:07|
|4||Brendan Jones (Northern Sydney CC)|
|5||Correy Edmed (Balmoral CC QLD)|
|6||Brian McLeod (Team Budget Forklifts)|
|7||Matthew Marshall (Shortis.com.au Cycling Team)|
|8||David Evans (Manly Warringah CC)|
|9||David Melville (Merida/Data 3#)|
|10||Steele Von Hoff (Genesys Wealth Advisors)||0:02:35|
|11||Reuben Donati (Mcdonagh Blake-Witness)||0:03:15|
|12||Eliot Crowther (International NZ)|
|13||Chris Beeck (Plan B Racing Team)||0:03:17|
|14||Michael Cupitt (Merida/Data 3#)|
|15||Joel Pearson (Genesys Wealth Advisors)||0:03:48|
|16||Anthony Giacoppo (Plan B Racing Team)|
|17||Philip Grenfell (Team Bike Bug)|
|18||Russell Gill (Norwood CC SA)|
|19||Peter Thompson (Ipswich CC QLD)|
|20||Chris Jory (Shortis.com.au Cycling Team)|
|21||Darcy Rosenlund (Team Budget Forklifts)|
|22||Daniel Brickell (Team Budget Forklifts)|
|23||Clayton Fettell (GE Plumbing/TDU)|
|24||Troy Bayliss (Gold Coast Goldstars CC QLD)|
|25||Stuart Grimsey (Brunswick CC VIC)|
|26||Malcolm Rudolph (Fraser Coast CC QLD)|
|27||Daniel Alcock (Coffs Harbour CC)|
|28||Craig Hutton (Team Bike Bug)|
|29||Benjamin King (Plan B Racing Team)|
|30||Lachlan Morton (Port Macquarie CC)|
|31||Nicholas Booth (Murwillumbah CC QLD)|
|32||Tristan Jones (Sturt Holdfast Marion CC SA)|
|33||Hadleigh Milligan (Uni CC QLD)|
|34||Nathan Haas (Genesys Wealth Advisors)|
|35||Hayden Kegg (Manly Warringah CC)|
|36||Angus Gale (Team Bike Bug)|
|37||Richard Vollebregt (Southern Highlands CC)|
|38||James Hepburn (BCRI QLD)||0:06:00|
|39||Sean Evangelista (GE Plumbing/TDU)||0:10:17|
|40||Scott Cronly-Dillon (Mcdonagh Blake-Witness)|
|41||Geoff Straub (Mcdonagh Blake-Witness)|
|42||Samuel Beveridge (Latrobe City CC VIC)|
|43||Caleb Jones (Manly Warringah CC)||0:17:16|
|44||Christopher Williams (Northern Sydney CC)||0:17:19|
|45||Matthew Chew (Merida/Data 3#)|
|46||Stuart Mulhern (Merida/Data 3#)|
|47||Mark Jamesion (Uni CC QLD)|
|48||Andrew Crawley (Mcdonagh Blake-Witness)||0:28:03|
|49||Antony Dimitrovski (Team Bike Bug)|
|50||Michael Hosking (GE Plumbing/TDU)||0:31:06|
|51||Paul Newman (BCRI QLD)||0:36:58|
|52||Samuel Rix (St Kilda CC VIC)||0:37:13|
|53||Matthew Wood (Team Budget Forklifts)|
|54||Nikolai Razouvaev (Merida/Data 3#)|
|55||Toby Hood (Ffast CC QLD)|
|56||Michael Sargeant (GE Plumbing/TDU)|
|57||Morgan Pilley (GE Plumbing/TDU)|
|58||Matthew Hodges (Murwillumbah CC QLD)|
|59||Sean Hurley (Brunswick CC VIC)||0:44:23|