Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM) and Tasman Nankervis (BMC Shimano) become the two latest names added to the list of UCI Gravel World Series victors on Saturday, both sweeping over the line well ahead of their nearest rivals to celebrate on the finish line of SEVEN in Nannup, Western Australia.
The Women’s WorldTour racer, who opened her gravel season at the race, finished the 125km race with more than 3,200m of ascent in just under five hours and around 12 minutes later Western Australian rider Cassia Boglio (DRG Knights Liv) crossed the line to take second. Her teammate and D2022 Dirty Warrny winner, Courtney Sherwell, came third.
In the men’s category, Nankervis shook off his rivals by first using his mountain bike skills to stretch the elastic on the tricky descents and then took off solo from a select lead group on a climb in the second half of the race. He came over the line with a speedy finishing time of 4:16:44.
Nicolas Roche (NR GRVL), had initially been in hot pursuit and looked well on track to come second in the men’s category, however University of Western Australia student Mark Chong overtook the former road professional. Roche held on for third and, like the two riders ahead of him, took to his first Gravel World Series podium.
The race, which started and finished in the small town of Nannup in the south of Western Australia, set off onto the extensive network of gravel roads in the Blackwood Valley early in the morning as low cloud shrouded the race in mist. The field of more than 1200 riders, the largest yet for a 2023 Gravel World Series race, was quickly split as it began to work its way through the 12 categorised climbs, with ascents ranging in length from 1.2km to 4.5km and with gradients frequently touching, or even exceeding, 20%.
The lead group was down to about 30 riders early, with a second group just behind including many of the key players in the women’s category. As sprinkles of rain dispersed to reveal blue skies and Autumn sunshine the lead group then reduced to about 15, as riders like Roche out the pressure on with their digs at the front while others, like Connor Sens (St George), drove an unrelenting pace on the climbs.
On the downhills Nankervis could be seen pulling out a gap on the lead group – which included last year’s winner Adam Blazevic and 2022’s third-placed Matthew Bird – but it was when the 2023 Life Time Grand Prix series rider put in a big attack on a climb in the second half of the race that he really…
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