Cape to Cape MTB 2016 – Stage Three: Through the Pines and To The Bar
If you closed your eyes in today’s pristine Margaret River singletrack you could’ve mistook the deafening buzz of freehubs for swarms of bees. The reality of perfect singletrack is far more appealing though, so we’ll steer away from bizarre ponderings.
Stage three of Cape to Cape 2016 began with a neutralised mass rollout from Xanadu Winery. The sight of over thirteen hundred riders snaking their way through Xanadu’s vineyard-lined driveway was truly spectacular.
From the winery, the riders cruised through the main street of Margaret River. The excitement this event generates not just for mountain bikers, but all of the local residents was evident by the huge crowds lining the main street.
After the spectacular rollout, the excitement was maintained by an all-out sprint at the front of the field into the first section of trail. Paul ‘Plowking’ van der Ploeg could be seen powering up the road, but it was last year’s winner Kyle Ward who timed the holeshot, leading into the first section of trail.
Today’s stage twisted and turned through the Margaret River Pines singletrack, which had riders pumping and weaving through uncountable berms and rollers amongst towering pines.
In the elite male field, it was another story of Torq versus Trek with Kyle Ward fending for himself.
The lead group of Chris Hamilton, Tasman Nankervis, Brendan Johnston, Michael Potter and Kyle Ward retained a healthy advantage over the field for the entire race. Coming up the day’s final climb, a brutally steep fireroad, their pace was unsurpassed.
Brendan Johnston took the stage win, but the story of the day was race leader Cam Ivory, who had lost over five minutes only halfway through the stage. Unfortunately, the entire Specialized team of Ivory, Andy Blair and Jenny Blair fell victim to a stomach bug, hence Ivory’s battle to even make it to the start line today. Andy didn’t make the start, Jenny pushed hard but when she caught up to a suffering Cam Ivory on course their support team pulled them straight off the course and into the car. We hope they recover soon and can still enjoy their time all the way over from the east coast.
Tasman Nankervis and Chris Hamilton rounded out the elite male podium, with Nankervis taking the leader’s jersey from Ivory, a great achievement from the talented young rider.
“I really enjoyed today’s stage, it’s been a while since I’ve ridden anything that well-groomed,” said Giant’s Jonny Odams at the finish line. Judging by the hundreds of riders splayed out across the Colonial Brewery lawn recounting stories and sharing a beer, it was a sentiment shared by all.
In the elite women’s race, it was also an exciting stage that saw the leader’s jersey change hands. Peta Mullens and Samara Sheppard traded blows for most of the stage once again, before Sheppard broke away with ten kilometres to go and held the lead to the finish. With a slim margin between the two, tomorrow’s racing will be very exciting. A strong ride from Briony Mattocks saw her take third place.
The question we’re left asking about the masters’ categories, for both the men and women is whether anyone can threaten Jon Gregg and Marie Claude-Baars, who have demonstrated consistency and strength all week.
Tomorrow is the final stage of this year’s Cape to Cape. The riders will travel 64 kilometres from Colonial Brewery to the Dunsborough Country Club. The race will take in two singletrack hubs in the ‘Middle Earth’ trails and also the flowing trails at Meelup.
Riders have loved the variety of trails on offer at the event, and tomorrow is no exception. Be sure to tune in to see all the action from the trails, as well as how the racing ends up!