“That” climb: Grafton to Inverell (p)review

29 April 2016

The first event of the 2016 Australian National Road Series (NRS) is fast approaching with the iconic Grafton to Inverell to open the season on 7 May 2016. The Grafton to Inverell is a historic event in the calendar, and being 228 km in length with over 3000 metres of climbing, is one of two big one day classics in the Australian cycling calendar. The 2016 edition will be hotly contested with all the leading teams sure to be fighting for the team classification and to open their NRS season with a win.

In anticipation of this we take a look at one of the key portions of the event from the view of Tim Cameron (AMR Renault) who claimed the fastest time up the infamous Gibraltar climb in 2015. With the overall teams classification for the 2015 NRS up for grabs, team tactics ensured that the infamous climb was one of the fastest ever recorded in history.

Grafton to Inverell Course Profile

Facts that matter

Race Distance 228 km
Ascent 3,382 m
History Race Started in 1961
2016 Date  7 May 2016
2015 (and 2014!) Winner Sean Lake (6h:01m:13s)

The start of the race was fast as riders looked to get away before the climb, and for many riders this is decisive in whether they have a chance to make it to the finish in the front group. Not only this but as the final event in the 2015 NRS, teams were fighting for the last points in teams classification which ensured that the breakaway was well covered until a select few riders were allowed to form a group. You can see that the first hour consisted of numerous spikes in power as Tim was trying to stay in the bunch and conserve for the climb!

3D power distribution

In the second row (green bars) you can see a respite before the climb as the break was allowed to establish… the calm before the storm! It was during the lead up to and the very start of the climb that Tim recorded his peak 6min for the ride at 6.2 w/kg. This is the fighting for position and then holding the initial surge as the Avanti racing team went about setting the tempo for the climb.

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 12.52.43 PM


Climb Power 332 W (5.4 w/kg)
Time  39m:23s
Average Gradient 6%
Distance 15.9 km
Elevation Gain 907 m
Speed 24.4 km/h

These stats in themselves are impressive and also worth considering is the power spikes throughout the climb. Looking at the ride graph below you can see Tim spent the initial part of the climb at or above his VO2 zone. Following this his power spikes above his VO2 max power on 23 separate occasions before returning to or just below his threshold power for the climb.

Gibraltar Climb

This is the all important Gibraltar climb that last year blew the race to pieces. We will have to wait and see how it pans out on 7 May this year. Can Sean Lake (AIW) win his 3rd Grafton to Inverell in a row? Will AMR Renault team take bragging rights up the Gibraltar climb? Can any other teams take the challenge to 2015 NRS teams champions Avanti IsoWhey?

We await the opening round of the 2016 National Road Series with great anticipation and what is sure to be another great chapter in Australian cycling history with the 2016 Grafton to Inverell!