Logan Griffin was crowned victor of the inaugural Te Akau Gravel Grinder in impressive fashion at the weekend, as he rode away to win solo ahead of Stuart Holder and Josh Page, with Gayle Brownlee taking the women’s title ahead of Michelle Van den Broek and Tanja Lempriere.
The first edition of the Te Akau Gravel Grinder, presented by the team at Dynamo Events, certainly met the brief if the brief was to provide something that was distinctive and challenging. Nestled in a near-coastal corner of the Waikato, Te Akau’s isolation and quiet back country roads provide the ideal location for a bike race; and its bountiful location of surfaces that are less than smooth make for a great gravel day out.
“First of all, Te Akau is well off the beaten track but is a beautiful little corner of the Waikato to ride a bike,” Logan told us post-race. “The race started and finished on the only short stretch of tar seal on the course before we turned onto some ‘Premium Groad’ with the road surface being very nice and fast across most of the course with only a few more technical sections but nothing some 38mm tyres couldn’t handle. There was a lot of short climbs over the course nothing over about 5mins at race pace but 1000m in 78km adds up quick.”
The longest of the climbs that featured on the road was a climb that gradually worked its way up from the 10km point before beginning to kick up a little more until 24km. It was at this point that the initial selection took place as Griffin found himself in a group of six riders that established themselves at the front. It’s testament to the location that the biggest obstacle was not cleated but clucking!
“We rode well together after the first climb with the only major obstacle being a Rafter (yes that’s the proper name for a group) of Turkeys which seemed rather unfamiliar to traffic trying their best to try to take out Stu [Holder],” Logan explained.
“By 60km the group was down to 4 of us, Karl Poole, Josh Page, Stu Holder and myself. There were a few hard climbs in the final 20km and Stu and I got away from the other two with about 15km to go.”
Because gravel racing isn’t challenging enough on its own the heavens began to open in the closing stages of the race as Stuart Holder and Logan Griffin fought the conditions as well as each other. But for Griffin the adverse weather proved to be the launchpad to his winning move.
“With visibility at an all-time low, I thought that was my best chance to get away from Stu who had been charging all day so with just under 10km to go and up the last significant climb of the race I put in an attack and got away.”
It proved an inspired move as Griffin ended up putting 41 seconds into Holder, taking the title in 2 hours 31 minutes and 27 seconds, with Josh Page coming home third a further 1.42mins behind Holder.
“All in all, it was a great event in an awesome location and an area I look forward to riding at a more leisurely pace in the future. I’d also like to thank the team at Dynamo Events for putting it on and I’d encourage anyone to enter for next year or in anything else they have up their sleeves for the future…”
The 42km event came down to a sprint finish between Danny Thornburrow and Kerri-Anne Page. The former just about managed to get the better of Page who took out the women’s title and finished second overall. The duo had built up a sizeable advantage by race’s end, finishing 3.26mins ahead of third place finisher Russell Smith.
To view the full results from both 78km and 42km events click here.