BUSY LIFE: Masters world record holder Laurelea Moss is taking a year out of the saddle in 2018.
BUSY LIFE: Masters world record holder Laurelea Moss is taking a year out of the saddle in 2018. Adam Hourigan

Moss stoked to see women's growth in annual Classic

CYCLING: South Grafton's cycling queen Laurelea Moss will be a notable omission from the annual Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic today.

A year after the event introduced the Regional Australia Bank Grafton to Inverell des Femmes category, more than 30 women are set to meet the starter's gun this morning but Moss will not be one of them.

The 40-year-old masters track world champion has pulled back from competition in 2018 as she aims to focus on completing her studies.

Moss has juggled working as an acupuncturist, full-time study, being a mother to young daughter Pheonix and competing at international level over the past few years, and according to the cyclist, something had to give.

"I have just got a diabolical amount of study to do, and at times there I was falling behind,” Moss said. "I know it can be done, but I want to be a good doctor, I don't just want to be an average doctor.

"It has been a terribly hard decision to make, someone even said to me they could squeeze me in to the start list (for today) last minute and I had to think about it a lot.

"It is so hard knowing I have the toughest one-day race in our backyard, but I have to stick to my guns.”

Despite not competing, Moss has been heavily involved in the Grafton Festival of the Bike this week, and said she was awed by the amount of women taking up the challenge of the 228km classic.

"Globally there is a greater difficulty in attracting women to compete in these events, so to see the Grafton to Inverell begin to buck that trend is fantastic,” she said.

"This sport offers women so much for fitness and mental health, all the benefits men get out of it, women could as well.”

The des Femmes category of the Grafton to Inverell allows women to compete against each other in the same conditions as the men, including more than 3000m of climbing over the Gibraltar Range.

Event director Chris Thompson said the women's race was a great success last year and organisers were committed to developing it into one of the most prestigious events in the country for women.

"This is the hardest one-day cycling event in the country and a rare opportunity for women to compete at this distance,” he said. "We were able to establish a women's category last year through the support of the Regional Australia Bank and we are very pleased that they have extended their partnership again this year.”

The race has attracted a quality field that will look at challenging the course record of 7 hours, 7 minutes and 30 seconds established by Queenslander Bree Wilson last year.