Pedal power . . . Coffs Harbour riders Rod Harding, Dan Alcock and David Leckenby work out on the Sawtell Velodrome yesterday.
Pedal power . . . Coffs Harbour riders Rod Harding, Dan Alcock and David Leckenby work out on the Sawtell Velodrome yesterday.

Coffs ?fab five?tackle Classic

By BRAD GREENSHIELDS

TODAY will see the 46th running of Australia's longest and toughest one-day cycling event, the 228km Grafton to Inverell Cycling Classic.

Raced over a course which takes in the gut-wrenching Gibraltar Range and the many hills such as the heart-breaking Wire Gully climb, the Classic winds it way from the Jacaranda City in the coastal area up and over to the Tablelands and to the Emerald City of Inverell.

Five local riders will tackle the gruelling course.

Weeks and weeks of training are set to go on the line for David Leckenby, Rod Harding, Vanessa McDonald, Dan Alcock and Beau Harper.

Leckenby is doing the Classic for the third time and his previous experience has taught him to sum up the race in only two words.

"It's tough," he said.

"You have to go hard up that hill to stay in the race and then you've still got 150km to go."

Harding is tackling the event for the first time but he says that the training he's put in along with the advice he's received should hold him in good stead.

"Dan (Alcock) has done it quite a few times and we quite often talk about the race and what to expect which should be a help," he said.

"I've done the distance in training, it's just a matter of whether I can stay with them up the hill.

"A few older guys who've done the race before come into the shop and they keep telling me 'don't do anything stupid' making sure that I've got enough left to finish the race."

McDonald is also tackling the gruelling event for the first time. She's admitted that from what she's heard of the race, she's glad the women are required to only race over the shorter distance of 160km but she says that the women's race presents it's own unique challenges.

"There's only a small group of girls so we're starting with the C and D grade men. There's probably 130 riders in the group so it's going to be hard to keep an eye on all the women in such a large group of men," she said.

"At least we only have to do 160km instead of the 228km."



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