Jack Anderson (Budget Forklifts) has claimed victory in the 2013 Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic, sprinting past Ben Johnson to cross the line first after a gruelling 228km road race through spectacular New South Wales scenery.
Anderson and Johnson broke away from a leading group of six riders with just over 20km to go, before powering through the descent into Inverell and grabbing the first two places on the podium ahead of Nathan Elliot (African Wildlife Safaris).
“It’s going to take a little while to sink in to be honest,” Anderson said post-race. “At the moment I’m just tired. Obviously it’s the last race of the season so I’m a bit relieved I can have a few easy weeks now.”
Anderson’s name will now join that of teammate and 2012 winner Peter Herzig on the Jack Griffin Memorial Shield.
“If you’re familiar with Australian cycling you know that this is arguably the toughest one day race in the country,” Anderson commented. “For me it’s definitely the hardest – I’ve done it a couple of times now and it was certainly much more difficult than I expected. And to join 50 or so other names on the shield is very humbling and overwhelming,” said an emotional Anderson.
Budget Forklifts controlled the race from the gun, pacing the breaks and making sure their riders were never too far away from the front. Despite several breakaways gaining sizeable time gaps throughout the day, Anderson bided his time before joining an attack in the latter half of the race to secure victory.
“I was confident I could take it in the sprint,” the Budget Forklifts rider added. “Ben’s a class rider, but he’s been out of the sport for a few years. I basically sprint the same after 5km as I do after 230km, so I knew if I could get to the finish I’d have a good chance of outsprinting him.
“It was fantastic to have him with me, we were the two strongest out there so when he came with me I thought it was a good move. Thankfully I had enough legs to finish it off.”
Entered as an individual, Johnson rode valiantly and pushed Anderson to the very end, but couldn’t quite pip the 26-year-old in the final push.
“If I’d known I was going to get second at the start of the day I would have taken that,” Johnson admitted. “It’s a bit disappointing – it is such a big race and to win it would have been fantastic, but Jack was really strong and we worked well together at the finish. It’s my first big race where I’ve been reasonably fit for a long time, so I’m really happy with the way it went.”
The 53rd Grafton to Inverell Cycling Classic is the final event in the men’s Subaru National Road Series for 2013.
Victorian Jack Haig (Huon-Genesys) did not compete in the event but has secured the individual honours for the 2013 series ahead of teammate Nathan Earle while Anderson will rounds out the overall series podium.