Meet the Shimano Australia team:
Vandy: Paul ‘Vandy’ Van Der Ploeg is a big presence both on the bike and off it. This large unit is a natural freak on the bike – he’s born to pedal hard – and he’s excelled at whatever discipline he’s pointed his tree-trunk quads at. He’s the man you want on an adventure like this, especially when the rain’s coming in sideways mid-way up a monster liaison stage and the spirits need a lift! This was Vandy’s second crack at the Trans NZ, after a podium in 2o17, and this year he came in fourth with some stage wins along the way.
RonRon: Michael Ronning’s name has been etched in Australian mountain bike folklore for more than a quarter of a century, and he’s still pinning it! The crafty old dog has more riding experience in his little finger than most of us do in our whole body, which is exactly why he’s so good at this kind of blind racing. RonRon held onto 1st in Masters Men for the first two days in Craigieburn, then continued to race consistently over the remaining three days to a second place overall.
Cannonball: EWS pinner but Trans NZ first-timer James Hall (aka ‘Cannonball) finished 5th in Elite, one spot behind Shimano team mate @paulvanderplow. For Cannonball, it was an event like nothing he’d ever done before. “The camaraderie was awesome. Everyone was in it together. We were riding such varied trails; for many of us completely blind. I had to back the pace off a bit but with that came consistency, less blowing out corners, and some decent stage results. It was great training for EWS and I’m looking forward to coming back again and definitely adding other international Trans-Races to the bucket list.”