On Sunday 21 February 600 gravel cyclists ventured into Australia’s Otway Range forest to compete at the 5th edition of Great Otway Gravel Grind (GOGG).
On 97km and 46km traffic free roads they rolled through tall timber forests, under massive tree ferns, past lookouts, lakes and beaches along the Great Ocean Road.
In the 97km race, Tasman Nankervis, Sam Fox and 17 year-old Fergus Browning attacked the stacked field early to open a gap before the first no-penalty time-out zone 33km into the race.
“We were all tied together for the beginning, then I slipped away on the rolling climbs – grovelling and digging deep to get to that first time-out zone!” said Nankervis.
From that point on Nankervis marked his breakaway companions and held on to a slim lead all the way to the finish to win with an overall time of 2:56:07, ahead of Fox (2:59:12) and Browning (2:59:47).
A unique and popular feature of the Great Otway Gravel Grind are the “time-out” sections where riders can stop for a coffee, food or wait for their friends without impacting their race time – in the style of true grassroots gravel racing.
In the absence of last year’s champion, Peta Mullens, Neve Bradbury took first overall in 3:21:44 on the 97km route to claim the Queen of the Otways title.
“It’s such a beautiful course; I love that you can stop, wait for mates, have a chat… it’s very social and I love that – despite the last climb being a killer,” said Bradbury.
Courtney Sherwell placed second in 3:27:20 with Kate Penglase earning the third and final podium step in 3:46:14.
Complete Great Otway Gravel Grind results here