Andy Blair left his rivals in the dust, winning the final Stage of the Ingkerreke Commercial Mountain Bike Enduro in Alice Springs today, cementing his yellow leader’s jersey for the third year in a row; whilst Rowena Fry continued her classy in-form week also taking the win at Stage 7 and sealing her general classification yellow jersey victory.
Stage 7 proved to be one of the best and most enjoyed stages of the five day, seven stage event, showcasing why Alice Springs is the hidden gem for mountain bikers around Australia. The final Stage saw riders take to a 36km fast course with varying terrain of single and 4WD tracks, beginning at the Chifley Alice Springs Resort and finishing at the scenic Telegraph Station reserve.
Blair dominated the week, winning all but two stages to wear the famed yellow jersey for a third year in a row, throughout all Stages. His winning time today of 1:34.45 gives him another time-bonus, to finish the week on top of the general classifications with a cumulative time of 9:44.30; ahead of Swell-Specialized teammate Shaun Lewis in second with 9:46.39, and fast finishing Michael Crosbie in third place just over four minutes behind.
“I came here with a job to do and it’s really great to get a hat-trick!” Blair said.
“When you come to Alice Springs, there’s a lot of things that can go wrong throughout a week of racing, so I was lucky enough to only have 1 flat tyre (Tuesday’s stage) and was able to make up for that and stay in the lead all week.” Added Blair.
The humble winner was wrapped to go one-two with Lewis.
“Shaun has looked after me all week, and it’s been awesome going 1 and 2 together. I was in a good position through the stages, but you can never count your chickens until you cross the line on Friday.” Blair said.
Lewis finished second to Blair on general classification overall, and was also the winner of last nights’ spectacular night race; crossing just 0.04 seconds ahead of Blair.
“I’m stoked by my riding this week. We came here as a team, so to go one-two with Blair who is the stronger rider, I’m really happy to finish second behind him. Hopefully I’ll be back next year too!” Lewis said.
Third place overall, and winner of Stage 3 Michael Crosbie (who rides for Rush Racing), hit the trails of Alice Springs for the first time on Monday and along with being a top contender all week, he was blown away by the diversity of the terrain.
“Firstly, I could not believe how much single track there is up here; and the diversity! You go from rock to sand; there’s little pinch climbs everywhere, awesome little descents; and lots of double track and fire roads that are super clean.” Crosbie said.
“I’m very happy with third overall – I’ll definitely be back again.” Added Crosbie.
In the women’s field, Rowena Fry was all class, and despite being pushed non-stop through the week by Jenny Fay, she managed to win 5 Stages and stay in the yellow on top of the general classification. Fry’s total cumulative time was 10:46.33; Fay took second place overall with 11:12.04, and Alice Springs born Terri Rhodes took third with 11:27.32.
Fry finished her stellar week simulating ‘plank-man’ over the finish line today winning the final stage in 1:49.50, with Rhodes second in 1:57.25 & Kelly Bartlett taking third place with a time of 1:57.26.
“I’m stocked with the win today and to take out the yellow jersey here in Alice Springs!” Fry exclaimed.
“The trails are absolutely pristine! A fantastic way to finish a ‘top top’ event; and I think all the riders had a blast!” Continued Fry.
“Yesterday was a tough day losing time on the individual time trial, but last nights’ Stage race was crucial for me, and I had a ball mixing it up amongst the guys and riding through mud puddles.” Fry said.
Fry took her hat off to the determined Fay, who despite building some fantastic form through the week, suffered from a mechanical in last nights’ stage, and a flat tyre today.
“Hats off to Jenny Fay; she was absolutely smashing me on the fire roads, and I was hanging on by a thread. I couldn’t wait to get to the single track (my forte) and I was wrapped to really just enjoy the day. It’s been great racing all week with Jenny and I’ve had a blast; I’ll definitely be back again next year.” Fry said.
Stage 7 second place Terri Rhodes grew up in Adelaide, but was born in Alice Springs and was very exciting about her racing all week.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the first stage, the night race and then today’s stage. It’s the single track I really enjoy. I pretty much rode along with a smile on my face – it was a really nice day.” Rhodes said.
“This is my third time in the Enduro; but the first time I felt like I was in good form, so it’s really nice to come back to my home time and go well.” Added Rhodes.
The feeling amongst all riders in the 2013 Ingkerreke Commercial MTB Enduro was that of elation and sense of achievement in an iconic Australian location – the spectacular red centre.
One rider to add some flair to the exciting week of racing was John Groves of Victoria who crossed nearly every finish line doing the ‘plank’ on his bike, and was therefore known amongst riders as the infamous ‘plank man’ (with which Fry simulated).
“It’s my first time to Alice Springs and this stage race is something I’ve wanted to do for a number of years.” Groves said.
“Now that time permits, I’ve made it up here and it couldn’t be much better! I love the loose trails, it makes it more exciting and my favourite stage was today for sure; I was taking in the views and really enjoyed riding along the fun single track and down all the rock faces.” Groves said.
Whilst the pointy end of the field had some fast finishing Stage races, each category also showcased some fierce competition. Michael Brill won the veterans (40-49) age group today, and took out the general classification to finish off a great week of mountain biking.
“The riding through Alice Springs is just amazing; the tracks are just awesome and I’ve had such a great time. I’m absolutely spent, but I’ve loved it.” Brill said.
STAGE SEVEN MEN
- Andy Blair 01:34.45
- Shaun Lewis 01:34.45
- Michael Crosbie 01:35.19
STAGE SEVEN WOMEN
- Rowena Fry 01:49.50
- Terri Rhodes 01:57.25
- Kelly Bartlett 01:57.26
OVERALL STANDINGS MEN (Total Cumulative Time –All Stages)
- Andy Blair 9:44.30
- Shaun Lewis 9:46.39
- Michael Crosbie 9:51.03
OVERALL STANDINGS WOMEN (Total Cumulative Time –All Stages)
- Rowena Fry 10:46.33
- Jenny Fay 11:12.04
- Terri Rhodes 11:27.32