A photo finish topped off a thrilling chase in the last seconds of the 2018 Grafton to Inverell Classic.
After sticking by each other in the break-away all day, it was Nathan Elliott from Bennelong SwissWellness who crossed the line first, just milliseconds ahead of Raphael Freienstein from Inform Make; and 0.05 seconds ahead of Inverell’s Ryan Thomas, in fifth place.
“I’ve been second here and third also, so I was pretty determined to win,” Elliott said. He took six hours, 44 minutes and 16 seconds to finish the race. It wasn’t close to last year’s record of five hours, 46 minutes, 26 seconds, but it was a valiant effort in the midst of chilly weather and strong headwinds.
The riders faced winds of up to 45 kilometres an hour on the Gibraltar Range, and temperatures as low as 1.1 degrees.
After staying in the front most of the day, he said it became “pretty touch and go” as the peloton began to catch up in the last kilometres of the race.
Elliott was awarded the Jack Griffith Shield, along with the winners jersey and the National Road Series leaders jersey.
Freienstein didn’t go unrewarded for his efforts, and was awarded the the King of the Mountain and the Clarence Valley Sprint King.
“It was a long day in the break!” he said.
In his maiden run on the course, young Cameron Scott from the Australian Cycling Academy impressed, coming in just 0.04 seconds behind the pair, snagging the third place jersey. He was also named the Best Young Rider of the day.
Inverell’s own Ryan Thomas was not far behind, winning fifth place for his team Brisbane Continental Cycling, just behind Anthony Giacoppo of Bennelong SwissWellness.
“I’m happy with that, considering how I was feeling at the start,” he said.
“That headwind makes it a very different race,” he said.
Former local Andrew McCosker came in 76th place for the Phoenix Cycling Collective, just over 48 minutes behind the leaders.
The provisional winners of division two were Dane Murray from the Gold Coast in first, followed by Ben Manson from the University of Newcastle and Tim Hoy from the Gold Coast in third.