GRAFTON TO INVERELL | NRS RACE REPORT
The NRS men's season finally got underway, under cloudy skies with the grandest one day race of them all, The Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic.
The Grafton was also our NRS team debut, an exciting day for our riders Alex Abell, Christopher Miller, Beautown Heath, Angus Calder and Toby Orchard, and legendary helpers Daniel Van Der Laan, Danny Roberts-Clarke, O'Loughlin Simon T and Elizabeth Anne Miller. This years' edition was to be like no other, a record breaking version in so many ways.
The precedent was set early with a blistering pace from the gun, the peloton was in no mood to allow any move to get away, resulting in the first 70km to the base of Gibraltar (inc. 1000m of climbing) covered at 42km/hr.
Toby Orchard used his bunch experience to not only provide bottles for Chris, Alex and Angus, but also place them in a great position for the climb.
Gibraltar, as always, would prove the big selection point. The 17km climb disintegrated the field, with barely 20 riders cresting the climb at the front of the race.
Chris Miller made the selection, however Alex and Angus were unlucky not to hang on to the second group on the road which would eventually bridge to the front of the race 15km after the summit of Gibraltar.
The record breaking pace and style of the race would not let up, even with a small 3 man group getting off the front just before the first feed zone (117km), what was left of the main bunch was in no mood to give them a long leash.
The race was now being controlled by the teams with big representation: IsoWhey Sports - Swiss Wellness p/b Cervélo, NSWIS Road Cycling Team and St. George Continental Cycling Team. However with multiple cards to play, a raft of former winners and many of the race favorites remaining in the field, the right mix of breakaway members was hard to find.
The race was still together as they flew through Glen Innes (170km) on track for a record breaking finish. At this point Chris was picking his battles, following moves that included the main teams, knowing the bergs out of Glen Innes might cause a selection.
With the bunch whittled down to less then 30, and the last KOM done, finally a small group of 4 got away. This was countered and another group of 5 including Mobius Future Racing's Jesse Coyle.
That famous Griffen climb 3km from the finish would prove vital. The front groups of 4 and 5 would come together, whilst Dylan Sutherland launched a stinging attack from the bunch that brought Chris and the bunch within touching distance of the front of the race with only the decent into Inverell remaining.
A huge pull from Jesse Coyle on the decent would keep the front 9 away, giving Neil Van Der Ploeg and Ayden Toovey a chance to go head to head in a sprint for the win, a sprint NVDP would win.
The bunch containing Chris were less then 30sec behind the winner in an outrageous time of 5:46hr.
It goes without saying we were delighted with the result, being that close to contesting for the win against Australia's best cyclists in the country's toughest one day race is a great achievement.
In a great show of character Angus, Alex and Beau all finished the 227km race having worked for Chris in the early stages.
Special mention to our sponsors and supporters without who, we would not be able to be a part of an event like this.
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