1168 riders streamed out from the starting line at Hamelin Bay this morning for Stage 2 of the Cape to Cape MTB. With the sun shining and a light breeze, conditions were perfect for the second day of the four-day race.
West Australian Peter Hatton used his local knowledge to stamp his authority on this stage, finishing with a time of 2 hours and 32 minutes, a full 2 minutes and 15 seconds ahead of the pack.
Riders battled it out from the start, climbing up a 4km hill out of Hamelin Bay. Winding on and off Caves Road, this was the chance to take it a little easier on the road climb sections before the approaching forest.
The Boranup Forest ride is spectacular, with centuries old Karri forest encasing thrilling single tracks and linking trails.
From the start, there was a tight pack of ten riders setting the pace for the rest of the field and they stuck together right up until reaching Boranup Forrest. After this cracking start, Dwellingup 100 MTB Classic Champion Peter Hatton was in the lead with Stage 1’s 2nd placing Adrian Jackson and 3rd placing Brendan Johnston. The three powered through new course alignments which follow the pristine coastline of Contos Beach, where Hatton stole the opportunity to get in front.
“The three of us got to the beach and it was tough. The sand was really soft so we had to get on and off our bikes, even into the waves a little. But I was lucky enough to get rid of AJ (Adrian Jackson – Merida Flight Centre) on the beach, left only with Trekky (Brendan Johnstone),” said Hatton.
It was here Peter Hatton’s long legs and local knowledge came into play to ultimately power him into the lead.
“I knew this beach was long and the sand would be soft so I knew I had to put my head down here and ultimately managed to get away.”
Hatton charged through the following water crossings in Boranup Forest, full from recent rains within the region – some parts ride-able, some not.
From there, the course wound through some of the South-West’s premier wineries, with Leeuwin Estate and Voyager opening up their properties to the thousand competitors.
“I knew I was gaining a lead but I think it’s good to have a bit of paranoia. Never give up and take for granted that you’re going to win.”
“I was just lucky enough to stay away,” said today’s champ.
Yesterday’s winner, Andy Blair, finished in fourth position today, yet still holds overall first for the Cape to Cape MTB.
“This stage is typically suited to the opportunists that can breakaway, Hatto obviously is a classy rider but I think we gave him a bit of slack. But fair play to him, next thing we knew he was out of sight and we were all racing for second,” said Blair.
2012 Cape to Cape MTB Female winner, Jenny Fay, made way back into the top spot after placing second in Stage 1, beaten by local tri-athlete Jo-Anne Bennett. By the mid-way point, Fay had clawed a 45 second advantage over Jo-Anne Bennet and current Australian cross country champion, Peta Mullens.
“I knew this was the make or break for me. This stage suits my strengths the best but I really had to keep fighting from the beginning. I focused on keeping my head above water and not pressing the panic button,” said Fay.
Jenny states her experience from the 2012 race as an advantage. “I knew when to stay dry and when to shoot through.”