Giant Australia Off-Road Team rider Brendan Johnston soloed for 65km to take the Australian Gravel National Title in Tasmania

Riding a prototype next-generation Revolt gravel bike equipped with the CADEX AR 35 Disc WheelSystem, Giant Australia Off-Road Team rider Brendan Johnston attacked the field with 65km remaining and stayed clear to take the Australian Gravel National Title in Tasmania.

It was the second gravel national title of Johnston’s career, and his second national championship of 2024 following a Mountain Bike Marathon National Championship in May—his sixth career MTB Marathon national title.

The 106km national championship was held under cool conditions on The Devil’s Cardigan course in Tasmania’s cycling hotbed of Derby, delivering three major climbs for a total of 2,300 meters of vertical gain.

On the first major descent, down Mutual Valley, Johnston opened up a lead with privateer Adam Blazevic as some rivals struggled with punctures while others took the rough downhill section with caution. The pair stayed clear up and over the 10.7km climb up Mt Victoria Road to Ralph Falls, the second of three climbs.

"The course doesn't suit me 100 percent, with the three big long climbs, so I had a plan to just hang onto the good climbers until we crested the final ascent to the Mt Albert plateau,” Johnston said. “On the first descent myself and Blazevic opened a decent gap. We decided to push on and at least try to start the 12km Ralph Falls climb with a head start.”

With notable climbers Mark O’Brien and Mark Chong closing to within 30 seconds, Johnston left Blazevic behind—still looking to have a head start onto the final, unnamed climb leading to Mt Albert Road. He had all that and more, extending his lead through the rolling terrain, down the final descent, and into the finish in Branxholm.

“I reached the top of the climb with a 1:15 lead, and was really confident that the final 40km of the course was in my favor," Johnston said. "I pushed hard on the rolling hills until I dropped down the range and used the brakes sparingly, letting the bike run. I felt fast and smooth through the last rough sector and came to the line comfortably enough to enjoy the lap of the finishing circuit."

O’Brien, also racing aboard a Giant Revolt, finished two-and-a-half minutes behind Johnston to take the silver medal, while Chong finished more than five minutes down to round out the podium. Giant Australia Off-Road Team rider Reece Tucknott finished fourth, with Johnston’s early breakaway companion Adam Blazevic rounding out the top five. Giant Australia Off-Road Team riders Jon Odams and Scott Bowden finished eighth and 16th, respectively.

In addition to the green-and-gold jersey, Johnston took home the traditional Devils Cardigan winner’s prizes—a sack of potatoes and a ceremonial wool cardigan. “It’s special to have my second national title of 2024 with the national gravel championships,” he said. “I had put a lot of pressure on myself for this event, so for sure I carried some nerves into the start line.”