After two days of racing, things are well and truly up for grabs at the pointy end of the racing, while the rest of the pack was just happy that Mother Nature has toned things down a notch!
Riders would have woken up for day two of Cape to Cape this morning with little balls of dirt having worked their way out from behind their eyeballs AND a sense of hope that the sultry, stormy looking skies that stare down on Margaret River were just the weather Gods bluffing. It would have been hard to imagine that the region made for postcards and travel brochures could serve up two abhorrent days in a row – rather it was easier to believe the forecast “minimal” chance of “minimal” rain would eventuate and we would instead be treated to some tacky hero dirt and little need to utilise the bottle drop.
The 63km stage two has been slightly tweaked from the previous year but remains one of the faster and more enjoyable days out on the bike. Departing from the stunning Leeuwin Estate, a neutral vehicle driven by a rather colourful Cape to Cape identity delivered riders to a fast and furious section of rail trails and farm roads, where the odd poke in the backside from a stray handlebar was as frequent as the high power intervals that are inflicted every time the bunch accelerates through corners. A few steep little pinches did just enough to string out the field as it headed in to the acclaimed Boranup Forest, the home of loam.
Trails like Emu Drive, Tunnel Run, Lord of the Rings and 3 Rocks made all the hard work to get to Boranup suddenly omitted from one’s memory – and with the recent rain they were in unbelievable condition. The tacky trails strewed with little drops, jumps and sublime corners induced a sense of acute happiness, liken to playing with a puppy or ordering dessert.
Out of Boranup and on to the Highway to Hell, which ironically takes riders down to some majestic views (one might say, Heavenly) of the coast at Conto’s Beach. Scattered with sharp looking rocks and the odd water bar, one does need to exercise some caution to avoid high speed gymnastic routines before negotiating a tricky turn on to the coastal road. A steady climb back up is followed by some sandy access trails, where riders suddenly and randomly changing direction is more common than photo-shopped profile pics on Tinder.
Finally, riders are treated to some superb pea-gravel single-track (with those who hail from the Eastern Seaboard doing their best Bambi on Ice impersonations) before a Team Time Trial – or Individual Time Trial if you are not careful – delivers the brave back to the luscious grounds of the Leeuwin Estate. Today stage honours went to Jayden Ward, who’s fast twitch muscle fibres put him just ahead of Cam Ivory (2nd), Brendan Johnson (3rd) and brother Kyle (4th). Women’s race leader Samara Sheppard was unfortunately crippled by a stomach bug, leaving the door open for Holly Harris to snatch a stage ahead of the Swiss maestro Renata Bucher (2nd) and Briony Mattocks (3rd). All GC spots are still well and truly up for grabs, ensuring tomorrow’s 45km Rumble in the Margaret River jungle will be very interesting indeed!