Cyrus Monk (Drapac EF p/b Cannondale) was crowned Australian U23 road race champion earlier this year.
Cyrus Monk (Drapac EF p/b Cannondale) was crowned Australian U23 road race champion earlier this year. Con Chronis/Cycling Australia

Monk back for another crack at Australian cycling classic

CYCLING: Australian excitement machine Cyrus Monk will be climbing into the saddle tomorrow morning as he embarks up the Gibraltar Range for the toughest one-day cycle classic in the country.

The Warragul kid has taken on the David Reid Homes Grafton to Inverell Cycling Classic in the past, when he finished second to team-mate Sean Lake, in his historic win in 2015.

But with the revamped schedule of the Cycling Australia National Road Series, this year will be the first time Monk has attempted the gruelling classic in the warmer months.

After a dream start to the year in the saddle, Monk will don the green and red of Drapac EF Cycling as he looks to take a step up the podium and etch his name on the prestigious honour roll.

"I couldn't have asked for a much better start to the year form and results wise which is rewarding for the long days on the bike and minimal trips to the fridge over summer,” Monk said.

The youngest in the Drapac EF Cycling outfit for this year's classic, Monk has proven mettle over the distance and at the event, and will be a key contender out of the 120-strong A Grade field.

"It'll be my first time back since 2015 and I've definitely got some fond memories,” Monk said.

"It's a truly selective race. I love the fact that the riders left at the end are the ones who have put the work in and got themselves in good condition at the right time.

"Having taken a break from intensity after the recent Europe trip, I'm in the middle of a base block so a solid six-hour day should fit in well.

"Not sure how the legs will go when the hammer really drops but I think the endurance should be there to churn out a solid ride whether that ends up being a result for myself or to help a team-mate in the final.”

Monk believes his Drapac EF Cycling team has the right blend for any race situation, but knows the importance of having numbers in the dying stages of the race to battle for the podium which has been dominated by the Bennelong Swisswellness outfit in previous years.

"Having numbers in the last 50km is always crucial, so it's hard to see a rider outside one of the stronger teams taking the win,” he said.

"We have a good mix of climbers, puncheurs and diesels so should be well equipped for whatever the race brings.

"It's a big investment both time and money wise for our team and staff so we're looking to make the most of the opportunity and get the win.”

The 58th edition of the classic will take the peloton through a 228-kilometre trek across the range, including more than 3383m of punishing climbing.

Last year's victor, Neil van de Ploeg, who smashed the classic in a race record 5hrs 46mins, will line up alongside Monk on the start line.