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Australian champion Connor Sens and Courtney Sherwell have taken the overall victories at the Gravelista round of the Trek UCI Gravel World Series in Beechworth, one of the opening qualifiers for the 2024 Gravel World Championships.
The riders from Bendigo both headed through the line solo, carving out a gap on all their rivals on the 120 km course that headed out of the historic township in Victoria’s high country through farmland and forest, taking in the Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park along the way.
Sherwell, the 2022 winner of the first edition of the Dirty Warrny, crossed the line in three hours, 53 minutes and five seconds to secure the elite women’s title. One-and-a-half minutes later Matilda Raynolds came through to take second while Cassia Boglio came third.
In the elite men’s race Sens, who finished the race in three hours 30 seconds and 44 seconds stretched the gap finishing nearly a minute ahead of Torben Partridge-Mason, who was coming off a strong patch on the road having taken third in the General Classification at the National Road Series Cycle Sunshine Coast. Daniel Braunsteins was third.
“What a year it’s been,” said Sens in an Instagram post. “Starting the year with 7th [in] the RoadNats ITT, to a few Bendigo District Cycling Club wins, taking out the National Gravel Championships, 5th at SEVEN, representing Australia at the Gravel World Championships and now a UCI Gravel World Series win!”
In a field that was missing last year’s winner, Adam Blazevic, Sens had stepped into the race with the number one pinned on his back and it didn’t take long for him to prove it was well placed. Some of his rivals fell away from the front of the race under the pressure of the pace and climbs. For others, such as Mark O’Brien, it was a puncture that ended their pursuit of the podium in the race with around 1,800m of elevation gain with gravel surfaces on 85% of the roads.
Sens finished off the last brutal climb before heading through the village of Stanley, with its apple orchids in a powerful position and added another…