2010 Baw Baw Classic (Victoria, Australia)
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 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.
Nathan Earle celebrating victory.
Photo © 2010 Andrew Christie-Johnston
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.
Earle on the Baw Baw climb.
Photo © 2010 Andrew Christie-Johnston
The snow then fell as the other riders slowly worked their way to the finish.
For Earle, this was a solid victory and one he is going to take a lot of confidence from.
"I was pretty keen to do well. With my upset stomach, I wasn't sure how I would go. All went well and the legs felt good. There was extra motivation today as the defending champion," Earle said.
He was quick to acknowledge his team-mates who worked hard all day.
"There was good help from my team-mates. They rode well."
"I felt really good on the climb and thought I could ride away from them, (Dyball & Talbot), as they looked like they were struggling. The steep terrain is what I like and I went for it. It's been a slow start to the year for me personally and it's good to get a result for me and the team and hopefully that gives the boys confidence heading into the next races," he added.
Ben Dyball experienced a fall and mechanical trouble and still finished second.
"I couldn't get my last gear. I was stuck in 23rd all the way. However, it's still a good result," Dyball said.
21 year old, Brodie Talbot, secured the best result in his career, a well fought third place and was happy the ride.
"It was a hard race. This is definately the best result in my career. I couldn't go any quicker and rode well," Talbot stated.
Genesys Wealth Advisers Team Director Andrew Christie-Johnston was pleased with the teams effort.
"At the end of the day it came down to what we thought. We thought the break would go and it was caught in the same spot as last year and Nathan attacked where he made his move last year. Everyone rode well and the team did the great job. Having Dylan in the move was perfect," Christie-Johnston said.
"It was good to see Nathan back in some form. It's been a tough time for him and he's had a bug since he came back from the Tour of Thailand a few weeks ago and has been on antibiotics. Hopefully this performance sets the year up for him," he added.
"We'll have to come back next year and aim for the hat-trick."
2010 Baw Baw Classic - Results (Top 10)
1. Nathan Earle (Genesys Wealth Advisers Cycling Team)
2. Ben Dyball (Virgin Blue-RBS Morgans)
3. Brodie Talbot (Macarthur Collegians CC)
4. Daniel Mcconnel (Bairnsdale & Riveria CC)
5. Mark O'Brien (Horsham CC)
6. Ben Grieve-Johnson (Genesys Wealth Advisers Cycling Team)
7. Kane Walker (Warragul CC)
8. Rowan Dever (Blackburn CC)
9. Dylan Newell (Genesys Wealth Advisers Cycling Team)
10. Charles Howlett (Latrobe City CC)