Justine Barrrow (Roxsolt Liv SRAM) took out the second Australian round of the Trek UCI Gravel World Series on Sunday with the rider who has stood on the podium of Australia's Road National Championships also proving a fierce competitor on the gravel roads around Beechworth in Victoria’s high country.
Barrow used her prowess on the climbs of the 115km Gravelista event to drop Samara Sheppard less than 20km from the line, on a section which took riders up past views which stretched to the snow speckled mountains at the Murmungee Lookout as they looped back toward the Beechworth start/finish line.
"There was also a pretty steep climb around the 80km mark, that made it hard and whittled down our group but my main competitor was still with me at that stage,” Barrow told Cyclingnews. “I planned to attack on the last climb, that's my strength.”
That planned attack pulled out enough of a gap to tide Barrow over until the end of the race in north-east Victoria, the second round of the UCI Gravel World Series held in Australia after the Seven race in Nannup provided an early season event in May.
The Beechworth course with more than 1,700m of elevation gain started with a fast road descent and went through to the Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park, out to Eldorado and then moved on through to a climb heavy second half, with the final efforts toward the lookout offering just moments of relief between a series of steep stepped rises.
It was then a largely downhill run through the final 15km, with a variation in surfaces from smooth tarmac to almost disappearing roads that ended up as narrow tracks through the bushland on the outskirts of Beechworth to the line in the centre of town.
"We were together for most of the race until just towards the last climb where Justine just attacked," Sheppard told Cyclingnews. "It was super steep and she just got that gap and held from there really. She's such a strong rider."
"I managed to claw back some time on the descent but not quite enough to get back on her wheel. But that's what's so much fun about gravel racing, There are all these different elements to it."
Barrow, 43, finished the race which was 85 per cent gravel, in 3:51:48 with Sheppard 27 seconds back and then in third it was Courtney Sherwell, who crossed the line almost 12 minutes later.
The splits came early, with a high pace right from the gun, and through the first part of the race it was Barrow, Sheppard and Sherwell who were the leading trio in the women's category, all sitting within the same group in the mixed start event. A stop for a much needed water restock took Sherwell out of the group, and stretched the gap to the leading duo too far for her to rejoin.
The event in north-east Victoria, Australia marks the ninth event of the UCI Gravel World Series and, like all other rounds, is an opportunity to qualify for the UCI Gravel World Championships, which is being held in the Veneto region of Italy on October 8-9.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
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Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.
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