Ethan Berends won Gravel and Tar on Saturday in a two-up sprint to the line against New Zealand’s Michael Torckler.
The UCI 1.2 Gravel and Tar is the first UCI win for Ethan, the first for mobius BridgeLane and caps off an incredible month of racing for the team in their first year with UCI Continental status.
The team has been staying in Palmerston North all week following the conclusion of the New Zealand Cycle Classic last Sunday. Throughout the week they have been testing out the gravel and preparing themselves for what was ahead.
With 11 teams of five riders each, Gravel and Tar was destined to be an aggressive race from the get-go. Very early on a strong breakaway group of 17 riders including Ethan formed at the front of the race.
With an established lead of 3:30, attempts were made to bridge across by those in the peloton, Angus Lyons made it across eventually after a fair time in no man’s land but was unfortunate to puncture on an upcoming gravel section.
Jesse Coyle also made the attempt to jump across and with Jesse 1:40 back on the breakaway, Ethan was able to do as little work as possible up front in order to save his legs for later on in the 131.5km one-day race.
Jesse eventually bridged across to the break after a small group attacked from the peloton including last year’s winner Rob Stannard and NZCC winner Hayden McCormick and helped him in the chase.
On the gravel climb, Ethan attacked the now diminished front group and Michael Torckler was the only rider who could follow his wheel. With 30km to go, McCormick also joined the group and the trio pushed on towards the finish. It was at this point that Ethan believed he had a chance to take the win.
“My legs were feeling fairly good considering we had just passed the 30km to go mark. I had a good group of strong guys around me so I knew we could ride it to the finish if everything went well.”
A puncture on the final gravel section took McCormick out of the race for first place, leaving just Ethan and Michael to jostle it out to the finish with Ethan taking a convincing win.
“I did have a pretty good gap on him by the time I hit the line but I didn’t know how well he could sprint so I sat on with 1km to go. As soon as I saw the line I put my head down and just went for it.”
“I am over the moon.”
Angus Lyons was our next top finisher in 7th place with Alistair Donohoe in 12th. mobius BridgeLane finished second in the team classification.
The team will be going into next week’s Jayco Herald Sun Tour with great momentum and confidence.