The Great Otway Gravel Grind that happens the day after the famous Otway Odyssey is quickly becoming a drawcard event in itself. For many it makes a long trip even more worthwhile with the opportunity to attain 2 days of quality racing. Which from a training perspective is hugely beneficial to any rider training for a stage race like Port to Port or Cape Epic. The race encompasses some of the most remarkable and famous scenery in Australia with a 9km stretch on the iconic Great ocean Road. With the start/finish in the same spot as the Odyssey yesterday logistics were easy for riders which is a good thing as the racing over these 2 days will have commanded nearly ALL of their energy reserves.
From the start in the elite field a selection was made over the first rise on gravel road after a fast sealed road section to begin. The lead group would contain much of the top 10 from yesterday and a few more including current Gravel Australian national champion Paul Redenbach and former Australian road champion Alan Iacuone. From this group it was the duo of Tasman Nankervis and Brendan Johnston whom would inflict the most pain. With less miles in the legs due to mechanicals the day before both were looking to take something away from the weekend.
The ‘GOGG’ as it is affectionately known consists of 4 ‘timed’ sections with neutral feed zones in between each timed section finishing times are calculated through subtracting time spent in these neutral zones. Subsequently racers must use some tactical nuance to ensure success here and also relish in the opportunity to have mid race park ups and chats in the beautiful surrounds. Prior to the finish of the first timed section it was Nankervis who put time into everyone coming through first with a gap to the field despite running a front flat tyre into the neutral section. Brendan Johnston followed just seconds after. The second timed section consisted of a much larger bunch after the time off at the well stocked feed zone. With this 22km section being predominantly downhill to the Ocean a large bunch would contest this together. Rolling down the beautiful and well surfaced forestry roads with a mix of gravel, CX and MTB bikes. The 9km great ocean road section was one of these neutral untimed sections allowing riders to enjoy the scenery, some even opting to stop at local coffee shops for a park up, coffee and donut.
From here the elevation had no option to point UP from the coast. The 20km long climb that makes up sector 3 could potentially make or break riders fortunes for the overall win. It was again Johnston and T.Nankervis asserting their dominance here but on the MTB’s nipping at their heels were former U23 national XCO champ Alex Lack, Cameron Ivory and Sam Fox. The unsuspecting Lack riding with a shoe held together with sticky tape who would be ‘best of the rest’ today taking 3rd! and first on an MTB. Tasman was riding his team Merida Gravel bike for this his 3rd win at the GOGG which also marked the first time the event has been won on anything but an MTB!
In the women’s Peta Mullens again asserted her dominance on this event with a win backing up from her win yesterday. In second was a young rider sure to be making waves in the years to come. Young Neve Bradbury just 17 years old came in ahead of Renata Bucher in 3rd. Full results here.
These results decided the overall ‘King and Queen of the Otways’ prize which takes into account results from both Saturday and Sunday of racing. With 2nd yesterday and 4th today Cameron Ivory took the King of the Otways prize whilst with 2 victories Peta Mullens was the undisputed Queen of the Otways!
That wraps up another stellar weekend of racing hosted by Rapid Ascent. Next year likely looking to be a stellar event with the Odyssey returning to it’s spiritual start location home of Apollo Bay after yesterdays announcement.