Grafton to Inverell expands in 2024

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Already an iconic event, this year’s Squadron Energy Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic will offer more opportunities for road cyclists to take part.

The northern NSW festival of cycling will expand to two days over April 27–28, kicking off in Grafton on Saturday morning and finishing in Inverell on Sunday.

The traditional, gruelling 228km classic remains as part of the men’s AusCycling National Road Series (NRS). This year, however, it will be supported by several new options that promote broader participation.

The women’s NRS event will expand into a two-stage race called the ‘Sapphire Tour’. Stage 1 will take riders from Mt Mitchell to Inverell (109km). Stage 2 will be the Lake Inverell Circuit Race (45km) on the Sunday.

For the Saturday, organisers have added a unique ‘Pairs Relay’ format. The first team member will ride from Grafton to Mt Mitchell (119km) before passing over to their teammate, who will complete the second leg from Mt Mitchell to Inverell (109km).

Women's NRS Grafton to Inverell
Photo: Scott Slade.

“We are very interested to see if the Pairs Relay will be a success,” said event director Chris Thompson. “This is a novel concept for road cycling that appears to suit the Grafton to Inverell.

“It allows paired riders the chance to share the workload of riding the challenging course and strategise who gets the task of taking on the infamous Gibraltar Range climb.

“It also removes the challenge of arranging the logistics of transport and feeding support on the point-to-point course.”

A new ‘Mt Mitchell to Inverell Open’ will run as a separate race over 109km on Saturday, using the second half of the traditional course – without the fearsome climb of Gibraltar Range.

Lastly, the event now includes a 30-kilometre ‘Open Lake Inverell Circuit’ race on Sunday.

It’s clear that event organisers are attempting to offer something for riders of varying abilities, not just those prepared to take on the full, intimidating course.

“The Grafton to Inverell is a very tough race” explained Thompson. “It has close to 4,000 metres of climbing and a cut-off time of nine-and-a-half hours. We recognise that it does require a level of preparation and training just to finish.

“Whilst the full distance race remains the feature of the weekend, it is great that additional riders can now be part of the action, share the experience and contribute to the atmosphere of a fantastic weekend of racing.”

The Grafton to Inverell will continue to showcase the top level of Australian cycling as part of the NRS calendar, following on from the Melbourne to Warrnambool and Tour de Brisbane. Last year's NRS races were won by Zac Marriage and Mia Hayden.

Entries are now open at the Squadron Energy Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic website.


Feature photo: Aaron Liang

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