Young sensation Ruby Roseman-Gannon (ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) has returned triumphantly from injury, winning the inaugural Gibraltar to Inverell one-day NRS race today.
In her comeback after knee surgery, the 22-year-old won the bunch sprint on Vivian Street ahead of Josie Talbot (Camden CC) and Peta Mullens (Roxsolt Liv SRAM).
There was poignant symmetry to the feat, following in the shadow of her childhood coach Alan Grindal, who won the first edition of the men’s Grafton to Inverell and was in attendance to see her win the first women’s event.
“Alan Grindal is from my club, Brunswick Cycling Club, and he actually ran my first clinic when I was five years old, so he was sort of my first coach,” Roseman-Gannon said. “He once said that I looked like I was riding to school, and I wasn’t competitive enough, so perhaps I am now. It’s a pretty special moment!”
Under sunny skies, 50 riders left from the top of Gibraltar Range for the brand-new 136km race that latter half of the Grafton to Inverell route.
Whether it was the light headwind, the course’s fearsome reputation or simply team tactics, the peloton stayed intact for the duration of the race, with the major players happy to save their bullets for the finish.
A crash partway through spoiled the day for a handful of riders, including Sophie Edwards (ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) and Phillipa Ash (Tamworth CC), who were unable to continue.
After the peloton crested the final uncategorised climb of Brodies Plains together, it was all about positioning the sprinters for the bunch kick. ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast formed a lead-out train for Roseman-Gannon with Talbot, Mullens, Melbourne to Warrnambool winner Matilda Raynolds (Specialized Women’s Racing) and Nicole Frain (Sydney Uni – Staminade) among the favourites.
Talbot poached the wheel of Roseman-Gannon’s leadout rider Maeve Plouffe before a nervous moment in the final turn 500 metres before the finish, when a motorbike got closer to the peloton than was comfortable.
Nevertheless, the sprint opened up without incident with all the top names to the front, spread six-wide across Vivian Street.
Leaving her charge late, Roseman-Gannon found a path through the middle to thrust her front wheel across the line ahead of the rest, taking a memorable win.
“There were a few moves off the front at times, but I think the slight headwind really neutralised things,” Roseman-Gannon said. “We as a team were happy to keep things together because they backed me in the sprint.
“They really rode hard for me, and I’m really thankful and glad I could pull it off for them because there were a few hairy moments in that sprint where I didn’t think I could,” she said.”
“I was on my lead-out train and kind of got pushed off, she said. “There was a motorbike in front of me, so I dodged that, then I thought ‘oh, that’s my sprint gone.’ Luckily it’s a long sprint so I came back at them.
“I was shocked going across the line, I don’t know how I did it.”
Nicole Frain won the QOM classification while Nicola Macdonald (Roxsolt Liv SRAM) took home the intermediate sprint prize.
With her win, Roseman-Gannon retains the NRS leader’s jersey, while her teammate Anya Louw took the young rider’s NRS jersey.
Full results: https://my.raceresult.com/164892/results
Words and photos by Ryan Miu