It is another great weekend of cycling with the 61st edition of the CWP Renewables Grafton to Inverell on Saturday.
The top men's and women's National Road Series (NRS) teams are ready to rip into the toughest Australian cycling classic following the Tour de Brisbane last month.
Mild autumn conditions and light winds are predicted for the 228km iconic race between Grafton and Inverell which will be a welcome relief for the 300 plus riders entered in this year's event.
The race is never one to follow a script and the winner could come from any of the strong riders across the 13 teams in the Men's NRS race.
Last year's runner up Sam Hill will be looking to go one better for his Nero Continental team but will face tough opposition from Team BridgeLane and Inform TMX Make who have dominated the race over recent years. Both teams have again brought a strong roster of riders, all of whom could take the win.
"History has shown that you can never predict what is going to happen in the Grafton to Inverell," Event Director Chris Thompson said.
"The race has been won in several different scenarios over the years dictated by the diverse race tactics and environmental conditions facing the riders over the epic 228km journey."
The race always produces plenty of stories and it is great to see the return of former Australian Super Bike champion Troy Herfoss after suffering a serious crash last year on the motor racing circuit. A highly credentialed cyclist, Troy finished 4th in the 2019 Grafton to Inverell and has been training hard to overcome the injuries he sustained to take on the challenge of completing another 'Grafton'.
His training partner former New Zealand Road Race Champion, Joe Cooper, might be another rider to watch. The evergreen Kiwi riding for the Giant Racing Team always features in this race and has the strength to break up the field on the decisive 16.3km climb of the Gibraltar Range.
After a successful debut in 2021, the event will again feature a National Road Series (NRS) event for women (Gibraltar to Inverell des Femmes) conducted as a separate division over the shorter distance of 136.6km that commences from Mulligans Hut at the top of the Gibraltar Range.
The race is the toughest women's event on the NRS calendar and has attracted the leading riders from around the country.
ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast have a good squad of strong riders and have scouted out the course which will be held over the notoriously tough back half of the course, filled with sharp climbs and dead roads.
"It was savage, brutally hard and both the men's and women's teams are looking forward to taking on the Grafton. Everyone came away knowing how hard that race is," Stuart Shaw, head of performance for ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast, said.
"I think the women's teams haven't had the same exposure to the Grafton and just how hard it is on the other side of the Gibraltar range."
The teams five rider squad is led by former professional triathlete, Danielle De Francesco, who has been a consistent performer in National races over the last year.
The other major contenders include last year's runner up, Josie Talbot, from the Sydney Uni-Staminade team and her team-mate, Jessica Pratt, a former winner of the Grafton to Inverell des Femmes over the full 228km distance.
Georgina Howe (Knights of Suburbia Racing), who is currently third in the NRS standings and former NRS champion, Emily Herfoss, are other riders to watch.
The 61st edition of the CWP Renewables Grafton to Inverell will have highlights broadcast on SBS TV on Sunday, May 15. The CWP Renewables Wrap Show will be streamed live on the SBS Cycling Central's Facebook page at 7pm after the race.
Live commentary of all divisions of the race will be broadcast on STA FM 91.9 Inverell.
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