• Sam Crome wins the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. (Jean-Pierre Ronco)Source: Jean-Pierre Ronco
The 2018 Cycling Australia National Road Series (NRS) gets underway with the country’s toughest one-day race, the David Reid Homes Grafton to Inverell (G2I) Cycling Classic.
Cycling Central

Cycling Central
8 May 2018 - 8:26 AM  UPDATED 8 May 2018 - 10:47 AM

The 58th edition of the Classic will take place on Saturday 12 May and will take the men’s peloton on a 228km stretch across Northern New South Wales with 3383 metres of climbing mapped out.

The final 60km includes the climb of the Gibraltar Range, Waterloo Range and Wire Gully, which is set to splinter the field before the finish in Inverell.

The NRS peloton has delivered some of the most exciting races in recent years with the past two Classics featuring the first two sub-six hour rides in event history. In 2016, Pat Lane set a course record (5hrs 57mins 55secs) which was smashed one year later by Neil van der Ploeg (5hrs 46mins 26 secs).

“Since moving the race to May from the traditional October timeslot we have seen faster, more aggressive racing due to the favourable conditions,” Race Director Chris Thompson said. “Teams are also very motivated to make a positive start to the series and accumulate early points. We are looking forward to another entertaining, tactical race where team strategy can play a large role in determining the final result.”

In 2018, 120 of Australia’s and New Zealand’s best domestic-based cyclists across 16 teams will battle for the coveted line honours and an etching on the prestigious Jack Griffin Shield. Team List

Eight-time reigning NRS champions Bennelong SwissWellness, which boast line honours the past two years, and five straight team wins, might begin the 2018 season with a new name and look, but their game plan remains the same.

The Bennelong SwissWellness 2018 G2I line up will include two-time podium finisher Nathan Elliott, plus Cameron Bayly and Sam Crome who boast stage wins in 2018. Joining them is Australian Cycling Team Member Alex Porter who is fresh from his team pursuit world record ride at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

“I am still buzzing from the Games and the record, but I put in a lot of work to get that result which translates to other forms of racing,” said Porter who will switch from the fixed gear four-kilometre effort to the formidable distance for the first time in his career.

“I can definitely take some confidence from breaking the world record, but now it is all now about switching the mindset of racing style and format of the longer races.”

“I am really looking forward to getting back out onto the road, we definitely have a strong team with some boys who are in some serious form.”

2015 runner-up Cyrus Monk will don the green and red of Drapac EF Cycling as he looks to take a step up the podium and etch his name on the prestigious honour roll.

“It’ll be my first time back since 2015 and I’ve definitely got some fond memories,” Monk said. “It’s a truly selective race,

"I love the fact that the riders left at the end are the ones who have put the work in and got themselves in good condition at the right time.

“We have a good mix of climbers, puncheurs and diesels so should be well equipped for whatever the race brings.”

At the final event of the 2017 NRS, Lionel Mawditt (InForm Make) joined illustrious the company of Cadel Evans, Richie Porte and Cameron Meyer, when he claimed a memorable final stage victory at the Tour of Tasmania.

The victory, plus the injection of 2016 Classic winner Pat Lane who joined the team in the offseason, make InForm Make one to watch in 2018.

“Last year's tour was a massive breakthrough for the team and myself personally. For the team, it felt like we gained more respect in the peloton and it probably resulted in adjusting our goals for 2018,” said Mawditt.

“Every race we go to now I think the goal is to be contesting the overall result. It's a cliché, but a bike race can pan out in so many different ways, so we'll discuss the basics like following the processes such as representing in all of the major moves.”

The Classic will also feature the Regional Australia Bank Grafton to Inverell des Femmes (not an NRS event), the second year that the women have had their own category in this race.