The final stage of the Cape to Cape MTB finished with a fierce battle between 2011 Cape to Cape MTB Champion Andy Blair (VIC) and former Australian representative Peter Hatton (WA).
The fourth and final stage saw riders leave Colonial Brewery in Margaret River earlier this morning and finish up some 60kms later at the Dunsborough Country Club.
In a fast final day, at an average speed of 30kms per hour, attacks on the bunch started right from the get-go. In an entertaining day of riding, with lots of races within the race. There were guys riding for a position on GC, there was Mark Fenner and Jon Gregg battling out for the Masters and Jenny Fay and the girls going for it in the women’s race Masters rider Mark Fenner broke away from the lead pack early in the stage. However the 20 strong lead group didn’t allow Fenner time to relish his lead, closing the gap before hitting Cape Naturaliste Road and dropping into the single-track of Meelup National Park.
In the Women’s, Jenny Fay held a lead in the overall that soon became uncatchable, only a disaster would take the pink jersey away from her.
Throughout the stage, Andy Blair concentrated his efforts on securing a second overall win to really stamp his domination on the event. Working tightly with team mate Shaun Lewis, a power of work was done to ensure Blair took out the title.
Adrian Jackson(Merida Flight Centre) rode a really smart race, sitting with the lead group and keeping out of trouble to ultimately secure second place overall for the event. Brendan Johnston (Target Trek) crossed the line in fourth place today but claimed a spot on the podium, coming third for the event overall.
Western Australia’s famous slippery pea gravel is always a challenge for interstate riders, which was taken to the next level in the single-track in Meelup in the deciding last leg of the race. Andy Blair led a group into the final single track at Meelup while behind him Pete Hatton led a chase group together with team mate Craig Cooke. In a big effort through Meelup, Hatton managed to pass several riders through the single-track and catch Blair to set the scene for the final downhill sprint to the line.
Blair said, “I got a little gap over Hatto and Craig Cooke but they mowed me down at the end and I had no choice but to lead Hatto out hoping that riding in the front would be okay.”
The numerous spectators and support crew lining the finish line witnessed an incredible sprint to the finish. Peaking over the crest leading into the final straight at the Dunsborough Country Club, Hatton was the first to appear with Blair working hard to beat him to the line. In the end Hatton was simply too strong and fought off Blair’s attack to claim the stage win for the day.
“He’s got a good sprint on him,” said Blair. “It’s a bit of a replay from two years ago, we came in here and had a similar finish. It’s good to see Hatto take on the final stage which means a lot and I’m sure he’s happy about that.”
“And I’m happy with the jersey.”
Peter Hatton said, “It was pretty good today, it was a pretty hard stage with road tactics and it came down to a sprint finish in the end. The key was to make sure I was right up the front in Meelup’s single-track. Luckily I wasn’t too far back, I was right up on them. I felt pretty good and I was reasonably confident in the sprint and it was good to finish it off on a high.”
At the Wildwood Road point of the course, it was Jenny Fay and Jo-Anne Bennett working together, a partnership that continued until they crossed the finish line almost simultaneously. Fay said, “I really was helping Jo today, because Target Trek have a really strong team, and Peta (Mullens) was helping Tory (Thomas). You know, we’re all mates and when it’s out there and I’m in the pink jersey it’s good for me to get into a bit of training and strengthening and I kept Jo up there.”
“In the last climb I told Jo how much there was left, and I just went on the last climb there to secure the win. I knew that was where I needed to go and I could hear her breathing deep. Because I can’t beat her over the pea gravel I gotta buy my time over that stuff.”
Jo said, “I felt better today, I just came good at the end again I think but not enough. It was good fun, I had a good time”.
“Today Jenny (Fay) and I worked together a bit as she had a big enough gap in the overall that it wasn’t going to affect her. So that was great we were able to work together, at the end of the day we are all great friends, not enemies”
“I haven’t done a stage race for 4 or 5 years now and I think I’m just a one-dayer now and you know I had a great time and the girls were awesome to race against. It was great to see so many guys and girls come over for the race and put on a good show for everyone.”
“It was good to be at and event on my doorstep”, she said.
Two women who also spent the day working together were Peta Mullens and Tory Thomas. “Today we had one aim which was to consolidate Tory’s second place,” said Mullens. “She had a bit of a rough patch on the road section and I did my best to bring her back up to Jo and Jenni which didn’t quite happen, but we held onto second and put her on the podium again. Looking after her in terms of gels and carrying her bottles. Tory got a mechanical on the road, she
snapped her seat, so I pushed her along a little bit and got on the front and tried to drive her along for as long as I could.” Thomas said, “The time gap would have been huge if Peta hadn’t saved my butt out there. There was a head wind, yeah she was so strong and waiting for me and doing roadie things like giving me water bottles. We really wanted a stage win, that would have been great but yeah so happy to get second.”
Today’s stage was the fourth and final in a record Cape to Cape MTB. Event Director Jason Dover said “The event this year was just remarkable. We had a record field of competitors, over 1,200, truly making this event the largest of its kind. Over the four days we’ve seen not only some incredible racing amongst the field of elites, but also some wonderful camaraderie and sportsmanship from the entire field”.
“The highlight for me was Andy Blair becoming the first rider since James Williamson to win the event twice. In a general sense seeing almost 1300 riders roll through the main street of Margaret River yesterday was another great moment.”