The final day of the Cape to Cape MTB played out in spectacular fashion under the blue Western Australian skies, as riders took on the 66.8km fourth stage from Margaret River to Dunsborough.
It was a tough finish to a fantastic few days; the fourth stage is the flattest and fastest of the event, and it was definitely a day where those with strong road legs could come to the fore. Rolling out from the Colonial Brewery just outside Margaret River, the pace was exceedingly quick from the word go, as the lead bunch sought to test out who still had the legs to hang on and the rest of field just tried to keep up.
Once again, the starts where staggered with around 200-250 riders in each wave. This strategy has worked well the whole way throughout the event and has meant that the trails have been surprisingly free of congestion despite the whopping 1100 riders.
Fast, gravelly fireroads and tarmac were the order of the day for the majority of the stage, except for the final 6km which was pure pea gravel singletrack of the kind you’ll only experience in WA. It was here on the technical, twisty final stretch that defending Cape to Cape champion Andy Blair hoped to make his move to regain the 34 second deficit held by Lachlan Norris.
The elite men’s field had hung together for most of the race, save some strong attacks by stage two winner Brendan Johnston and young gun Reece Tucknott, but with the singletrack looming, Blair launched his final assault, hoping to force Norris into making an error. It wasn’t to be, and whilst Blair won the stage, Norris hung onto a 28-second overall lead and grabbed his first ever Cape to Cape title.
Jenny Fay made it four stage wins from four starts today. Her form throughout the race has just been astonishing, spending most of her time riding with the elite men’s field, doing just as many turns at the front of the bunch as any other rider. Fay admitted that she spent most of the day counting off the kays and riding conservatively, well aware that she had it in the bag save for serious disaster. She even had a large piece of gaffer tape on her top tube, just in case she should somehow slice a tyre open today!
Jodie Willet had a better day on the bike, though she did confess to being “completely fu#ked” when Flow caught up with her on course. Her consistency across the race was enough to land her second overall, just ahead of Nic Leary who was at her best in the singletrack of stage 3.