Avanti Racing confirmed their status as the dominant team in Australia when they secured the individual and team classifications in the Subaru National Road Series with the final event seeing Tom Davison secure third place at Grafton to Inverell.
New South Wales played host to the final 220km one-day classic that would finally decide matters in what had been a very close run team classification. Avanti Racing and Charter Mason Racing went hammer and tong against each other all season and it finally came down to this one tough race, featuring a difficult 18km climb. The first hour of racing was electric as the two teams cancelled each other out, entering any breakaway attempts where they could but in doing so they also nullified the efforts of the other teams to make it into the breakaway.
One of the major crunch points came at the 18km climb as Joseph Cooper took control of affairs on the front, fracturing the peloton and also sending Charter Mason out the back of the bunch. While he surged at the head of the race, the boys in red, white and blue amassed at the back to try and rally together and rejoin the race. But instead they found things slipping away from them as Avanti Racing recognised their advantage and pressed on, pushing hard and making them suffer. Eventually the call was made from Charter Mason to withdraw from the race.
The race-winning move came out of the small leading group. Sean Lake of African Wildlife Safaris went on the attack with 55km remaining in the 55th edition of the race. In attacking, Lake was attempting to do what no one had done beforehand in retaining the Grafton to Inverell title he’d won last year. It was an ambitious move, as he didn’t have any company, but he made it stick and gradually pulled out a lead that peaked at a full 4 minutes ahead of his closest rivals.
Lake crossed the line for a historic win and led an African Wildlife Safaris 1-2 as teammate Cyrus Monk took second place in the small group sprint. Tom Davison of Avanti Racing prevented an African Wildlife Safaris 1-2-3 to take third place ahead of Patrick Lane and Lucas Hamilton. Michael Torckler of Budget Forklifts also managed to secure a good result, coming home in 10th place.
In the team classification despite Charter Mason Racing pulling out of the race on the day, they still finished just 6 points behind Avanti Racing; giving an indication of just how tight things were at the top of the leaderboard. Avanti Racing finished the series on 190 points, with Charter Mason on 184 and African Wildlife Safaris on 90.
In the individual standings the result was much more clear cut with Patrick Bevin – currently in training with Cannondale-Garmin – dominating the standings with 82 points. Michael Schweizer of African Wildlife Safaris was second with 51 points and Joseph Cooper edged out fellow Kiwi Brad Evans for third place with 43 to Evans’ 39. Also featuring in the individual standings was Charter Mason’s Keagan Girdlestone who finished 13th overall with 22 points.