In brutal weather conditions, Nathan Earle (Genesys Wealth Advisers Cycling Team) fought through an illness he’s had for three weeks to claim a second consecutive victory in the Warragul Nissan Baw Baw Classic.
Nathan Earle claimed a sensational victory in terrible weather conditions at Mt Baw Baw this afternoon. The 21 year old defended his title in similar fashion to last year attacking in the final 5km to outlast Ben Dyball (Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans) and Brodie Talbot (Macarthur Cycling Club) who finished second and third respectively.
Strong cross winds, heavy rain, hail, hard climbing and difficult descents were the major obstacles before the tough climb up Mt Baw Baw. The 8km climb has an average gradient of 11% with a maximum of 23.5%, and is the hardest ascent in Australia and arguably ranked one of the top five difficult climbs in the world.
James Ibrahim (Bendigo & District Cycling Club), Dylan Newell (Genesys Wealth Advisers Cycling Team) and Kane Walker (Warragul Cycling Club) flexed their muscles and attacked early on. At the feed station, 46km into the race, the trio had a minute and twenty seconds over the peloton.
When the peloton reached Vespers Hill, the race broke up and only a selective group of seven were at the head of the race with the break of three approximately a minute in front. Pre-race favourites, Ben Dyball (RBS Morgans), Eric Sheppard (Jayco VIS), Mark O’Brien (Horsham CC), Nathan Earle & Ben Grieve-Johnson (Genesys Wealth Advisers Cyling Team) were all present and accounted for. The other riders with them were Brodie Talbot (Macarthur Collegians CC) and Daniel McConnell (Bairnsdale Riviera CC), who were in with a big shot to take the victory.
At Ice Creek, Ibrahim fell back into the peloton as his former breakaway companions increased their advantage to two minutes. Nathan Elliot (Brunswick CC) was dropped on Vespers Hill but managed to climb back into the leading group on the next incline.
30km to go, the leading duo still had a comfortable lead. 22km to the finish, on a descent, Ben Dyball crashed but the group slowed down to allow him back on which allowed four more riders to bridge across. McConnell launched an attack not long after and managed to get a slight lead and Grieve-Johnson followed as they trailed the break by just over two minutes.
In the final 2km before the tough climb up Mt Baw Baw the leading duo were caught and the race was on. At the start of the climb, Talbot, Earle and Dyball broke away and got an advantage over the next 3km. With 5km to go, they had a 30 second lead over McConnell as Nathan Earle attacked where he made the winning move last year on a gradient of approximately 12%. In the next kilometre, Talbot dropped off and Dyball was struggling as Earle was riding away.
Three kilometres to the finish, Earle had over a minute on a fighting Dyball and was looking comfortable with a two minute lead with two kilometres to go. At the summit, the temperature was zero degrees as he crossed the line. Ben Dyball came in second, two minutes and 35 seconds behind with youngster Brodie Talbot two seconds back in third place.
Full article here – http://www.dailypeloton.com/displayarticle.asp?pk=16676
Baw Baw Classic MMAS123/Webmaster Report
The race began in sunny conditions and within a minute it began to spit. The large tailwind pushed the bunch at speeds of up to 60kph out of Warragul. While travelling up Nilma Shady Creek Road the wind tested rider’s bike handling skills. The large group of riders at the front was pushing the pace at between 40 and 50kph. This proved too much for many of the riders and the field broke up before the climb up to Shady Creek, with a lead group of approximately 20 riders pulling away.
A chase group of nine riders soon formed. These riders all appeared to be of the same ability and four or five took turns at the front. After the race turned into Mizpah Settlement Road, cracks started to appear. The lead bunch was far out of site. Two of the nine chasers were stronger on the hills. One Warragul rider made sure they did not get away for long.
By the time the group was at the feed station, five chasers were left. One dropped his musette, two were confidant wet weather, cross wind descenders and two were not. Two C graders passed the group at around this time. A small group of Masters123 reformed by the time Noojee was ridden through. Up Vespers Hill, everything fell apart and bunches of Masters 123 were no longer to be seen. For myself, I was paced by 3 riders 50m ahead (the C graders, and one from my group). I could see no one behind me.
Riding up Vespers, the rest of C grade passed me. Riding down Vespers was notable as riders got stuck behind support vehicles.
With 80km to go, it was inner thigh cramp time. Soon after this, Masters 4+ rode by. The last 20km felt like it took a long time. The final climb was a bit chilly and required a stop thanks to monoing going around a corner and winding up sideways.
Around five minutes after my race finished, it began snowing.
In all grades, the fastest time of the day was 03.32.55 (28.74kph average) and the slowest was 05.29.40 (18.56kph average).