Another “Top Notch” Edition of the Baw Baw Classic

13 Apr 2014 , by CyclingVic

Round Three of the 2014 Victorian Road Series saw riders tackle the 103km journey from Warragul to Mt Baw Baw, with the final 6km / 11.3% average gradient ascent from ‘The Gantry’ to the Mt Baw Baw village at the forefront of all thoughts. However, all riders were soon reminded that the first 97km is also very hilly and difficult.

After a week of terrible weather, riders were greeted by fine and sunny conditions at the race start in Warragul. That welcome ‘blue sky’ was replaced by clouds and fog at the Mt Baw Baw finish, but nonetheless the rain stayed away.

First of all – Congratulations to everyone who finished the 2014 Mt Baw Baw Classic – it is a truly brutal course and all finishers should feel very proud of their efforts.

The Elite Men’s category was taken out in decisive fashion by Brodie Talbot (Team Budget Forklifts), the recent NRS Adelaide Tour winner. Talbot bridged across solo from the peloton to a small breakaway group, and then continued on to finish 26 seconds ahead of second placed Mark O’Brien (Avanti Racing), who had been in the break all day and held on very bravely to defy the charging peloton in the closing kilometres.

Brodie summed up the final climb very well, “I was waiting for the climb to level out in the final 6km, but it never did. I had a 39×28 gear ratio on and it was only just enough. It was brutal.”

The Women’s event was taken out by Lizzie Williams (Specialized Securitor). Williams repeated her victory of three weeks ago in the Mt Buller Road Race. Ironically, Tessa Fabry (Brunswick CC) once again took second place, as she also did at Mt Buller.

A summary of the Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort Classic winners and VRS leaders in each grade can be viewed below.

Grade Baw Baw Classic Winner 2nd 3rd VRS14 Leader
Men’s A Brodie Talbot Mark O’Brien Matt Clark Sam Crome
Women’s A Lizzie Williams Tessa Fabry Kristy Glover Shannon Malseed
Masters A Cameron Clamp Peter Dennis Adam Versteege Cameron Clamp
Men’s B Scott Thompson Scott Gigante Sean Carruthers
Women’s B Rebecca Stephens Prita Jobling-Baker Katherine Taylor Rebecca Stephens
Masters B Steve Guy Julien Fleurus Leigh Hauxwell Julien Fleurus
Men’s C Darryn Benn Michael Stringer Jared McClintock Darryn Benn
Women’s C Samantha Abbott Fiona McMillan Katrina Barrow Samantha Abbott
Masters C Andrew Gray Matthew Irons Bruno Rabl Andrew Gray

More detailed Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort Classic results can be found on the link below:

Detailed Results

Cycling Victoria would like to thank Warragul Cycling Club, Karin Jones, Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort, Victoria Police, Vic Roads, Baw Baw Shire Council and all the volunteers, riders and officials who combined to make the 2014 Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort Classic such a great success.

Competitor’s Guide.

Race report from Masters C by Team Blotto.

Article in The Warragul & Drouin Gazette.

Photo set 1 & photo set 2 by Jen Davies
Photos by Jo Upton


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Billed as the Toughest Race on the Calendar

With the Mt. Baw Baw Alpine Resort Classic forming round two of the Victorian Road Series, rather than the historical 6 grades, 9 were contested on Sunday 14th April. The weather was slightly muggy in Warragul with a hint of rain that never eventuated until just after all riders had finished. There was not much in the way of wind, and with the exception of some mud along Sheffield Road and a few pot holes, the road was in good condition. Almost ideal conditions for the race.

The final climb was closed to traffic for the most part, so racers could zig zag their way to the top and was much appreciated by many tired legs.

Shane Miller (4th in Masters A) tweeted just after the event “Went to a very dark place today at . Epic. Brutal. Beautiful. Great event! (Argh, I cramped typing that)”. Yup, that sums things up nicely.

Congratulations to the 219 riders who finished the race, especially the winners.

2013 Baw Baw Classic Winners
From L-R: Danny Kah, Adam Versteege, Jay Phillpotts, Verita Stewart, Matt Clark, Deborah Richards, Anthony Wallace, Lucy Caldwell and Frank Nyhuis

There were several highlight performances on the day. These included:

  • Matt Clark (Charter Mason Drapac Development Team) winning his second consecutive Victorian Road Series event in Men’s A Grade, having also won the Mt Buller Road Race in mid March.
  • Lucy Coldwell (Holden) producing a great ride to win Women’s A Grade over teammate Miranda Griffiths. Lucy now leads the Women’s VRS standing, having placed second in the Mt Buller Road Race.
  • 16 year old local Cyrus Monk (Warragul CC) finishing second in Men’s C Grade.
  • Deborah Richards (Hawthorn CC) & Verita Stewart (Hawthorn CC) completing back-to-back victories in Women’s B & C Grades respectively.
  • Women’s C grade finished quicker then Women’s B grade.

Thanks go to Karin Jones (Race Director) and the Warragul Cycling Club for their tireless work to make this a successful event. See you all back next year.

Men’s A grade sponsored by Baw Baw Alpine Resort

Matt Clark (Charter Mason) finished in a time of 03:21:51. Ben Dyball (Huon Salmon Genesys) was second (+0:59) and Robbie Hucker (Drapac), third (+2:37).

Women’s A grade sponsored by Baw Baw Alpine Resort

In the women’s A race, Lucy Coldwell (Holden) was first up the mountain in a time of 3:59:19. Previous winner and team mate, Miranda Griffiths (Holden) was second (+2:51) and Lisa Barry (Bicycle Superstore) was third (+5:41).

Men’s B Grade sponsored by Champion System

Adam Versteege (Carnegie Caulfield CC) claimed first place in 03:42:56, followed by Sam Gifford (St. Kilda CC) (+1:16) and Daniel Herrewyn (Mt Gambier) (+5:57).

Women’s B grade sponsored by Yeatman Design

Women’s B grade saw Deborah Richards (Hawthorn CC) take out first place in 4:33:14, ahead of Elisabeth Rubie (Kooragang CC) (+0:22) and Emma Pane (Brunswick CC) (26:31).

Men’s C Grade sponsored by Wakefield and Vogrig Lawers

C Grade saw Jay Phillpotts (Hawthorn CC) cross the line after 03:43:49 in the saddle. Second was Cyrus Monk (Warragul CC) (+5:38) and Nicholas Kennedy (Carnegie Caulfield CC) (+7:54).

Women’s C grade sponsored by Wakefield and Vogrig Lawers

Verita Stewart (Hawthorn CC) was first in a B grade beating time of 4:27:21. Next up was Jennifer Brown (St. Kilda CC) (+2:00) with local lady Kate Prestidge coming in third (+5:32).

Master’s A grade sponsored by Baw Baw Alpine Resort

Here the Carnegie Caulfield CC dominated the podium. Danny Kah came first in a time of 3:40:48 with Michael Gallagher second (+0:46) and Ciaran Jones third (+1:05).

Master’s B grade sponsored by Yeatman Design

Anthony Wallace (Carnegie Caulfield CC) took out first place in a time of 03:44:07. Paul Makepeace (Latrobe City CC) came in second (+5:01) with Matthew Ledgar (St Kilda CC) third (+7:20).

Master’s C grade sponsored by Wakefield and Vogrig Lawers

Frank Nyhuis (Blackburn CC) was first across the line in 3:56:48. Greg Castelow (St Kilda CC) came in second(+2:12) with Craig Keane (ADF Cycling) claiming third place (+4:52).

Rider’s Stories

Matt Clarke (A Grade) – 1st place in 3:21:51

Trent Morey (A Grade) – 7th in 3:25:47

Mark Fagg (A Grade) – 48th in 3:48:29

Lucy Coldwell (A Grade women) – 1st in 3:59:19

Shane Miller (A Grade Masters) – 4th in 3:42:01

Cam Clamp (A Grade Masters) – 5th in 3:42:22

Veritia Stewart (C Grade Women) – 1st in 4:27:21

Sean Wikleson (B Grade Masters) – 11th in 3:59:17

Andy Burbas (B Grade Masters) – 27th in 4:17:38

Paul Yeatman (B Grade Masters) – 31st in 4:44:42

Photos by Tony Reekman

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Nathan Earle claims his third ANZ Baw Baw Classic in record time

Mt Baw Baw Alpine Report on a Warm Sunny Sunday in March

A record number of riders contested the 2012 ANZ Baw Baw Classic road race. The mild conditions resulted in some fast times. Official results can be found here. A summary of the 2012 race is provided below followed by a more indepth report.

A grade sponsored by Baw Baw Resort

Nathan Earle (Hobart Wheelers CC) racked up his 3rd win in a time of 03:20:23 – a record for the current course. Blake Hose (Geelong CC) was second (+1:32) and Jason Spencer, third (+1:33).

Women sponsored by Baw Baw Resort

In the women’s race, Miranda Griffith (St Kilda CC) made it two in a row in a time of 03:58:02. Heidi Buntrock (st Kilda CC) and Elizabeth Hall (Hawthorn CC) were next across the line.

B Grade sponsored by Blackwoods Garden Supplies

Edward Powell (Melbourne Univerisity CC) claimed first place in 03:39:43, followed by Aaron Blomeley (Ballarat/Sebastapol CC) and Mark Kelly (Horsham CC).

C Grade sponsored by Wakefield and Vogrig Lawers

C Grade saw James Gray (Hawthorn CC) cross the line after 03:53:56 in the saddle. Second was James Rickard (Coburg CC) six seconds behind and Greg Castelow (St Kilda CC) a few minutes back.

MMAS123 sponsored by WHK Accoutants

Tom Leaper (Blackburn CC) took out first place in masters 123 in a time of 03:44:41. Michael Tolhurst (Canberra CC) came in second a minte back with the 2010 winner, Ciaran Jones (Carnegie Caufield CC) another minute back in third.

MMAS4+ sponsored by ANZ

Masters 4+ was won by Danny Kah (Carnegie Caufield CC) in 03:51:38. David Sturt (Carnegie Caufield CC) came in next and was followed by Anthony Chandler (Blackburn CC) who had won the previous three years.

Well done to everyone who competed and a big thanks to the volunteers who run this event. Official results will be posted this evening.

2012 Baw Baw Classic Review – Gruelling Race Challenges the Best

Sunday, 15 April 2012 – Eliza Lee –

A record 230 competitors tackled the gruelling 103km ride from Warragul through the West Gippsland hinterland to Mt Baw Baw for the 12th Annual Baw Baw Classic presented by ANZ. Competition was fierce as international and national riders pushed their bodies to the limit as they powered up what is recognised as 2nd steepest categorised climb in the world. Blues skies and spectacular views from Mt Baw Baw were a pleasant change for competitors who faced sleet, snow and sub zero temperatures during the last two years of the race.

Tasmanian rider Nathan Earle took out the A Grade honours for the third time in four years, crossing the line in 3h20:23. Earle is passionate about the race and said “it’s my favourite event, not because I’ve won it a couple of times but because it’s exciting, incredibly challenging and different to all the other Australian races. Conditions are unpredictable and it’s so hilly that you can never see further than 200m ahead, so you have no idea where the other guys are.” Earle is now preparing to go to Asia for the Tour of Borneo and the Tour of Japan before heading back to Italy to race the European summer.

There were just eight brave competitors in the women’s event; Miranda Griffiths from the St Kilda Cycling Club took out the women’s race for the second year in a row, conquering the demanding 103kms in just 3h58:02. Griffiths crossed the line in front of the 4th Men’s C Grade rider, which was an outstanding achievement.

Ian Maher from Cycling Victoria is a proud supporter of the prestigious event and believes ‘the Baw Baw Classic has etched its name in Australian cycling and gets bigger and better each year. Attracting 71 A Grade elite riders is an excellent achievement; the field is as good as any event in Australia.’ ‘The country’s best cyclists have ridden in the Baw Baw Classic, just look at past winners, Simon Gerrans in 2003 and Simon Clarke in 2005. If you can conquer Baw Baw you are ready for the international stage’ said Mr Maher.

Race Director Karin Jones was elated with the quality field and record numbers of entrants and believes it was the best edition in the races’ 12 year history. The Warragul Cycling Club looks forward to continuing this iconic event for years to come.

Mt Baw Baw Alpine Resort CEO Stuart Ord was delighted, stating that ‘the Resort is thrilled to be a part of such a successful event, Karin Jones and the Warragul Cycling Club have done a fantastic job organising the race, and we look forward to the event growing in the future.’ ‘It is obviously an exceptionally tough ride, challenging riders both physically and mentally and I admire every competitor who crossed the finish line today, it is an incredible achievement’ said Mr Ord.

Media release version.

For some photos of the race, click on this link to Leanne Cole Photography

Cycling Central on SBS had the following re-cap of this year’s event.


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2011 Baw Baw Classic Review

Friday, 15 April 2011 – Cycling Victoria

195 starters took to the 11th annual Baw Baw Classic on April 10th. Riders were had tough and cold conditions all day with fantastic racing taking place.

Miranda Griffiths (St Kilda CC) was too strong on the day taking home the victory in the Women’s race in 4:06:19 with Elizabeth Hall (Hawthorn CC) and Kristy Glover (Wellington CC) rounding out the podium.

In the Men’s A grade Calvin Watson (Carnegie Caulfield CC), last year’s B grade winner, went one better this year and claimed first place in the A grade elite race in a time of 3:25:59. Nathan Haas (Viking CC) was next and Floris Goesinnen followed him.

In the B Grade event Luke James (St. Kilda CC) was too strong for the field pulling away for Victory in 3:44:24 with James Randall (Albury Wodonga CC) taking second 47 seconds later and Jake Klajnblat (Carnegie Caulfield CC).

In C Grade Callum Freyer (Carnegie Caulfield CC) was too strong for Fergus Sully (Blackburn CC) in one of the tightest finish of the day by winning by only 4 seconds.

The Masters 1-2-3 saw a tight fought contest which became a climbing battle with Andrew Ward (Bendigo CC) narrowly taking home the win over Jason Laird (Coburg CC) and Christian McDonald (Cobram CC).

Riders were greeted by the trademark snow on the top of one of the toughest climbs in Australia.

The April 17 broadcast of Cycling Central on SBS had the following re-cap of this year’s event.

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Earle Overcomes Illness and Mt. Baw Baw

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.

Article by Chris Graetz –

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 –

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).

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Nathan Earle wins Baw Baw Road Classic

Warragul Cycling Club hosted the start of the 9th Annual Baw Baw Cycle Classic on Saturday 18th April. This year Nissan Warragul was the naming rights sponsor and a record of 220 entries were received this for the event.  Of these, 18 were DNS and another 28 were recorded as DNF, victims of mechanicals or as one competitor described it, the brutal final climb on which riders are reported to have struggled to keep speeds above 12 km/h.

A grade: A group of 4 riders, including the eventual winner Nathan Earle, broke away on the run up to Neerim Junction and at the half way point were one minute ahead of the main mass of A graders. They rode through Noojee at 11:30 followed by the remainder of the field at 11:33.  The four managed (including Warragul CC’s Kane Walker) managed to stay away until 5km from the finish when the climbers were at an advantage.

Crossing the line first was 2007 2nd place finisher, Nathan Earle (MEN23/Hobart wheelers CC) in 3.24.56 followed by Eric Sheppard (MEN19/CCCC – 3.27.56) and Patrick Lane (MEN19/CCCC – 3.28.10).

B grade: B grade held together well and at the half way mark contained the women and all but 5 of the field turning onto the Mt. Baw Baw Tourist road at Noojee at 11:48. Three riders came through at 11:50 and the remaining two riders at 11:53.

Crossing the line first was Peter  Dennis (MEN/Hawthorn Citizens Youth Club) in 3.33.25 followed by James Rendall (MEN23/Albury-Woodonga CC – 3.35.26) and Matthew Clark (MEN19/Wangaratta CC – 3.38.12).

C Grade: C grade held together well and at the half way mark at Noojee contained the women and all but 7 of the field. The main bunch turned onto the Mt. Baw Baw Tourist Road at 12:07 followed by four at 12:09. one rider at 12:09 and two riders at 12:11.

Crossing the line first was Jason Laird (MEN/Coburg CC) in 3.52.34 followed by Ross Hamilton (MEN23/Blackburn CC – 3.55.21) and Tim Calkins (MEN/CCCC – 3.56.25).

Women: The women began the race with C grade and at the halfway mark at Noojee remained with the main mass of C graders.

Crossing the line first was Ruth Dorset (WOMEN/Townsville CC) in 3.56.23 (beating 3rd place in C grade) followed by Stephanie McGrath (WOMEN/St.Kilda CC – 3.27.53) and Fiona Spargo (WOMEN/Blackburn CC – 4.01.51).

Masters 1-3: At the half way point at Noojee, two riders had a three minute lead heading onto the Mt. Baw Baw Tourist Road at 11:56. A group of four riders (including Warragul’s Shane Stiles) rode through at 11:59 followed by the main chase group at 12:00. An additional two riders rode through at 12:01, seven at 12:03, two at 12:06 and one at 12:07.

Crossing the line first was Michael Gallagher (MMAS1/CCCC)  in 3.33.57 followed by Ciaran Jones (MMAS3/CCCC – 3.40.03) and Stefan Kirsch (MMAS2/Blackburn CC – 3.50.33).

Master 4-7: A single racer passed through the T intersection at Noojee at 12:12. He was closely followed by another three riders with two more hot on their tails. The main bunch (including Warragul’s Thommo) rode through at 12:16. Having a strong group of fellow club members helped the Blackburn Cycling Club take out 1st, 2nd and 3rd.

Crossing the line first was Anthony Chandler from (MMAS4/Blackburn CC) in 3.51.22 followed by Aaron Field (MMAS4/Blackburn CC – 3.52.21) and Guy Green (MMAS4/Blackburn CC – 3.53.53).

A big thank you goes out to all sponsors and volunteers.  The 10th running of the race promises to be bigger and better.

Photos by Carl Brewer.

Photos by Charmion Phillips.

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Dainel Braunsteins wins Baw Baw Road Classic

It was a great day for the 2008 Mt Baw Baw cycling classic but the weather did not ease the pain of the final 6 km on the mountain. Over 190 riders left Warragul and most made it to the top but even the elite A grade riders slowed to less than 10km per hour as the murderous 20% gradient of some sections of the climb took their toll.

In A grade it was promising Under 23 rider Daniel BRAUNSTEINS from Hawthorn Cycling Club who took the title. He rode the 97 km in 3:12:29. This is an average of just over 30km per hour. Second was David PELL from Bendigo & District CC and third was Daniel FURMSTON from Hobart. This shows how far cyclists are prepared to travel to take on Mt Baw Baw. Carlee TAYLOR from the Norwood Cycling Club took out the open women’s race.

Local Warragul CC riders were well represented as well. In B grade James Henry finished a creditable 7th of 34 riders and Kane Walker came in 10th.

In the Masters categories Warragul riders also excelled. Tim Lee came in third in the Masters 1 classification. Luke Hanley finished second and Shane Stiles third in the Masters 2 category. Geoff Thompson finished second to Latrobe Valley rider Roland Elsdon in the Masters 5 classification.

Congratulations to all riders who made it to the top. Just completing the race is a tremendous achievement.

Photos by Carl Brewer.

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Peter McDonald wins Baw Baw Road Classic

The race was won in 03:10:30.  Warragul CC’s best rider was Luke Hanley in 5th place in B grade.  Kane Walker came 19th in C grade (4th in J19), Wayne Chester came 16th in Masters 1, 2, 3 (10th in the Masters 2) and Thommo came 8th in Masters 4+ (2nd in Masters 5).

Well done to all who finished.

Photos by Carl Brewer.

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From Warragul to Whiteout

By Monique Hanley

The 2006 Mt Baw Baw Classic: from Warragul to Whiteout

A three-inch snow dump, rain, sleet and sub-zero temperatures greeted riders for the 6th annual Mt Baw Baw Classic on Saturday, aptly marking the start of the Victorian winter road racing season.  It was hard to imagine conditions ahead from the Warragul race start where the weather was mild with an occasional shower, so when Race Director Chris Beales announced to riders to prepare for extreme cold and snow many thought it was a cruel April Fools Day joke.  Overnight, the Mt Baw Baw tourist road had received three inches of snow which required clearing by Mt Baw Baw Resort staff before racing commenced.  Combined with Antarctic south westerly winds, heavy patches of rain and snow flurries, the race became a question of survival for the 126 starters.

There were many extraordinary efforts during the race, including Masters 2/3 category winner, Tom Crebbin, who defied the odds to make a back-to back win.  Undoubtedly the most notable effort in any racing category was found in the Masters 4 and above section where Ken Ford continued his amazing streak by claiming the win in another sprint finish to Ian Blackie.  Ford has now won every Masters prize since the race inception in 2001.  Canberra’s Michael Tolhurst was the standout rider in A grade who after bridging to a mid-race breakaway, climbed clear from St Kilda’s Ashley Hayat to surge up the final 6km.  Tolhurst was part of the inaugural Mt Baw Baw Classic in 2001, finishing 11th overall and since then has made the interstate journey three times to improve his results.  Until this year his best placing was back in 2003 with 4th place.

A grade

The A grade bunch were the first to roll out from Warragul’s West Gippsland Arts Centre, and even encountered a chance sun period through Glen Cromie before the temperature plummeted and the rain returned.  After the Vespers Hill KOM climb, led by Nick Walker of Brunswick, Tolhurst made the decision to get across to the break.  ‘It was all or nothing,’ he described after the race, ‘we had a group of three working together and just before the Toll Gate (the start of the final 6km ascent averaging 12%) I made my move.’  With race radio giving feedback on his time gap to the chase bunch, Tolhurst described the feeling as ‘horrible’, as the bunch closed in from 2min 30 at the toll gate to just 20 seconds by the finish.  The conditions deteriorated further with sleet and snow flurries greeting all riders at the mountain top, but Tolhurst dug deep to hold off the late charge led by Hawthorn’s Daniel Braunsteins.  The Classic had been a race Tolhurst always wanted to win, but given the conditions he was understandably uncertain on coming back to defend his title in 2007.  Spaced apart by 20 second intervals behind Braunsteins were Josh Wilson (Launceston) and William Ford (VIS).


The women’s race start was combined with the Masters group, enabling the pack to largely remain together until the Vespers Hill climb.  From here, Latrobe Valley local Peta Mullens (Carnegie Caulfield) took hold of the women’s race, continuing solo until the Toll Gate and establishing a considerable lead.  But tragedy struck as her legs came unstuck on the steep ascent.  Forced to walk the steepest sections, she could only watch on as Carnegie Caulfield club-mates Helen Kelly and 16 year old Lisa Friend pinned back her lead and passed her in the final sections.  The win was an excellent result for Kelly who is in her final preparations for another racing season in Europe.  Mullens was able to cross the line in third position ahead of Bairnsdale and Riviera’s Simone Spykers.

B grade

An attack by Bradley Clark (Albury-Wodonga) and Adrian Jackson (Dirt Riders) at Rokeby, only 10km from the start, at first wasn’t given much respect by the B grade peloton.  But as the race progressed and conditions deteriorated, the Clark-Jackson alliance proved unstoppable.  Behind them, the chase was impeded by a six-rider fall on the descent outside of Jindivick which hospitalised two riders, but ahead of the bunch only Jarrod Harman from Mersey Valley Devonport was able to bridge across to the two escapees.  His presence was short-lived, as Clark and Jackson continued on their way with Clark claiming the KOM prize on Vespers Hill and going on to take out overall honours.  Jackson finished second, mountain biker Daryl Burns third and Brunswick rider Jordan Sutherland fourth.

C grade

The C grade bunch stayed together until a five-man break formed after Vespers Hill, whose prize was claimed by Leongatha’s Brett Franklin.  Franklin, along with good mate Mark Ferguson (Carnegie Caulfield) pushed ahead on the final climb, with Ferguson taking the win.  ‘It was just a case of riding at your own pace in these conditions‘, noted Ferguson afterwards, ‘but I really thought that Brett was going to take it out’.  Sutherland Shire rider Dion Blair finished third and Brunswick rider Paul Munro fourth.

Masters 2/3

The Masters 2/3 field allowed an early breakaway by Coburg’s Tom McDonough to work solo for the first 50km.  His effort was rewarded by the sprint and KOM prizes, but he was reeled in shortly after Vespers Hill by a small bunch.  Within this pack sat 2005 winner Tom Crebbin (Hawthorn), who saved his best for the final charge to repeat his effort and claim back-to-back honours.  The pace in the Masters field was high as they caught the C grade bunch ahead of them.  Aaron Field (Blackburn) was second in the Masters 2/3, followed by Paul Logan (Coburg) and Matt Colston (St Kilda).

Masters 4 and above

The Masters race once again proved to be a classic race with an early three man breakaway led by race favourites Ray Jarratt (Cobram Barooga), Ian Blackie (Ararat) and Ken Ford (Carnegie Caulfield).  By the start of the toll gate the pace had proved too taxing for Jarrat, but it was Blackie who led the charge up the final 6km with Ford hanging on for dear life.  It seemed that after finished second to Ford the past two years that 2006 would be the year for Blackie.  With the crowd cheering on, the pair rounded the bend into the carpark side by side, sprinting for the finish.  With both riders throwing everything for the line, it was Ford who managed to steal the fairytale from Blackie, crossing a heartbreaking ½ wheel in front of the Ararat rider.  Completing his own fairytale, Ford has now claimed every Masters prize for Mt Baw Baw – a staggering six year winning streak – and the worthy namesake of the Ken Ford Perpetual Masters Trophy.

Photos by Carl Brewer.

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Simon Clarke Conquers Baw Baw

By Mal Sawford

The fifth staging of what has become renowned as the toughest one day race in Australia saw eighteen year old Simon Clarke (Victorian Institute of Sport) cap off his phenomenal preparation for his three month stint in Italy with the Australian Under 23 Team with another impressive win on the near vertical slopes of Mt Baw Baw. Showing his versatility and toughness, the youngster who cleaned up at the Bendigo International Madison Carnival three weeks earlier, took to the start line despite a nasty fall in training only two days before the event. Race Director Chris Beales was thrilled with the success of the event, which drew a big crowd to the race start in Warragul. There were also good crowds at the Noojee feed zone and at the summit, where the car park was full. Beales was appreciative of the support from the local community, with generous support from Road Safe, a Vic Roads initiative, Baw Baw Shire, the Mt Baw Baw Resort and Alpine Hotel and Phil Gallagher’s Bikeland Warragul. Gippsland Syndicated Logging were instrumental in the safe staging of the event, keeping their logging trucks off the roads for the day.

How It Unfolded

Although relatively short at only 97 kilometres, the race takes riders over three major climbs, at Jindivik, Neerim South and Vespers Hill before tackling Australia’s only ‘Hors Categorie’ climb to the summit of Mt Baw Baw. The final six kilometer climb is reported to be the steepest paved road in the Southern Hemisphere, and saw the majority of riders opt for 29 tooth cogs or a triple chain ring set up to tackle the 13% average gradient. Clarke initially watched as a three man move went clear on the Jindivik climb, thinking it was far too soon to commit in the 30 degree heat. He had a change of heart when he realized that along with Ashley Hayat (the Freedom Machine) were Giro d’Italia stage winner David McKenzie (HLP/Ridewiser) and local star John MacKenzie (Lloyd Morgan), who wore the number 1 bib! Clarke jumped across to the leaders, and the quartet combined well to pull away from the bunch, staying together to Noojee, where McKenzie took out the Shimano Sprint. The tough four kilometer climb to the KOM at Vespers Hill saw Clarke lift the tempo and only McKenzie had the strength to respond.

After Clarke took the KOM prize, the two leaders shared the pace for close to fifty kilometers, and arrived at the toll gates which mark the start of the final climb well ahead of the chasing bunch. As the road turned skywards, Clarke immediately put some distance into his companion, but revealed after the race that he hadn’t actually attacked. “I just started the climb at my pace, and Macca started at his. When I saw I had the gap, I just went as fast as I needed to to guarantee the win. I wasn’t really racing up the climb, just cruised up.” Clarke took a little over thirty-one minutes for the climb, and rode a 39 x 27 “I reckon at about nine or ten k’s most of the way – other guys told me they were doing thirteen, but they would have caught me straight away if they were” for most of the journey. It was the first time he had ridden the mountain “but I’d been told heaps about it and what to expect. But it looked pretty steep when we got to the toll gates and I didn’t know exactly how long the climb was. Davo ( VIS head coach David Sanders) had told me it would take about thirty minutes, so I set my watch and just started counting the minutes down!”

Clarke initially scratched from the event when he got his call up the Australian team, which leaves for Italy on Wednesday. Sanders later decided it would be a good last hit out after a week of training in the Victorian High Country, and re-entered his star rider. Near tragedy struck on Davo’s regular epic Thursday motorpacing session when Clarke tangled handlebars with the motorbike and “Davo ran over me!” Clarke’s feet didn’t release from his pedals, and he was dragged behind the bike for a distance, but survived with nothing more serious than a substantial amount of missing skin. McKenzie hung on for a well deserved second place, while Jason Heggert proved to be the best climber left in the bunch, racing to a third place finish ahead of Pat Shaw (VIS) and the determined MacKenzie.

Support Races

Under 19 riders dominated the B Grade event, with William Ford and Pip Grinter taking the top two spots ahead of KOM winner Nathan Masters and another promising junior Nick Walker (CBD Cycles). Brad Clark was too strong in the C Grade race, leaving Pete Knight and Ryan Bilszta to settle for the minor places. The ‘young masters’ race saw a three way battle amongst the riders who regularly dominate Melbourne Masters racing, with Tom Crebbin (Pro-Motion Bicycles) triumphing over Guy Green (Le Tour Cycles) and Australian Road Champion David Sturt (Giant/Pro-Motion).

Ken Ford (Gran Prix Bicycles) retained his amazing undefeated record, with his fifth straight win at Mt Baw Baw in the Masters Category 4, 5 & 6 Division. It was no walk over for the unassuming climbing maestro, who attacked the leading bunch on the descent from Vespers Hill to Icy Creek, but couldn’t shake off Ian Blackie. The pair were inseparable up the final climb, with Ford taking the win in a close sprint.

Only two Women were prepared to tackle the mountain this year, and competed in the Masters race. Mary Rogers acquitted herself well, with a top ten finish, to finish as the leading lady ahead of Angela Wade.

Photos by David O’Leary.

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