O’Brien hoping to add Baw Baw Classic to palmarès

Almost 200 elite and amateur cyclists are set to take on the Mt Baw Baw Apline Resort Classic this Sunday, April 10.

The grueling 103 kilometre event forms part of the Victorian Road Series and takes riders through the rolling hills of Gippsland before the final 13% climb to the Mount Baw Baw Tourist Road to the Mount Baw Baw Village.

Australia’s number one domestic team, Avanti IsoWhey Sport, will field a strong line up including team captain Mark O’Brien.

O’Brien, who won three National Road Series events in a row in 2012, has raced in eight of the event’s 16 editions and finished second, third, fourth and fifth.

“Baw Baw is a brutal and renowned climb, it’s one of my favourite races to do,” said O’Brien.

“It’s all about conserving energy for the final climb, which is a tall ask given how taxing the whole course is throughout. Most years it’s a select group left at the base of the climb and then it’s a matter of who has the most energy left to grovel to the top

“I would love to win Baw Baw to finally get my name on the honour roll.”

O’Brien will tackle the mountain alongside teammates Neil Van der Ploeg, Sam Crome and former National Road Series champion Joe Cooper.

Also amongst the 56 elite A-Grade hopefuls include Warragul’s own Cyrus Monk, and for the first time the Kenyan Riders Downunder Team will compete.

In the Voyage Fitness Warragul women’s field, defending champion Justine Barrow returns to the race in the hope of going back-to-back. Going up against Barrow will be National Road Series (NRS) Tour winner Tessa Fabry.

Fabry won hilltop finishes in the NRS in 2014 including the Battle on the Border before racing in Europe and other national events with the High5 Dream Team.

Entrants for all other grades have been strong, including 31 in the Frankies Cafe Masters B, 28 in the Gary Blackwood Masters C, and 26 in BD Legal Masters A. Olivers Real Food B Grade and Insulmet also have a quality entrants.

Beginning at the Warragul West Gippsland Arts Centre, riders will travel through Neerim South and Noojee before crossing over Icy Creek. At the 55km mark, riders hit Vespers Hill, which ascends for 4km at a gradient of 8% which is sure to split the field.

The honour roll includes cycling legends Dave McKenzie and Simon Gerrans.

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