Copyright Grafton to Inverell Media

The 2017 Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic will feature a category for female riders over the full 228km distance for the first time in its 57 year history. The inaugural Regional Australia Bank Grafton to Inverell des Femmes provides an opportunity for the women to take on Australia’s toughest one day cycling race under the same conditions as the men.

Event Director Chris Thompson, says event organisers have been campaigning for a women’s category over the full race distance for some time, however, he says, it has been difficult to get the full backing of cycling authorities until recently.

“We believe that women should be afforded the same opportunities in sport as men and with the support of Cycling NSW, they have been allowed to take part in the last two editions of the race. This has proven to be very popular and Regional Australia Bank’s support this year has enabled them to have their own official category. ”

“We’re proud to encourage equality and diversity in such a prestigious Regional event and it’s fantastic to be able to play a part in the evolution of the race in this way” says Darren Schaefer Executive Manager at Regional Australia Bank.

There are few, if any, races in the world that provide women with the opportunity to compete at this distance and this is a significant milestone, not to mention a huge step forward for the event and for cycling in general.

“This is the hardest one-day cycling event in the country and it will now profile the women as well. It is a real coming of age and we are excited to see this event grow to be a popular and prestigious cycling event for women,” said Chris.

The event will also showcase increasing female involvement in the officiating aspect of the sport with the appointment of Fiona Fahy as the first female Chief Commissaire in the history of the race. She will be supported by a further two female Commissaires on the day making up nearly half of the officiating roster, Mr Thompson says ‘It is great to see our event moving forwards and representing cycling as a sport that is all-inclusive of gender. We hope to see female involvement in the event continue to grow across all avenues in the future. It is fantastic to have partners like the Regional Australia Bank make this possible”

The 57th Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic will be conducted on Saturday 13 May. The race will be broadcast live on radio Sta FM 91.9 which is also streamed live on their web site.