“You bastards,” laughed Peter Selkrig as he slid on his arse in the mud, “get that camera out of my face!” He needn’t have been so self-conscious – there were plenty of other riders making less-than-graceful descents on their chamois on their way out of Wallarah National Park.
The final leg of the Port to Port MTB 2015 won’t be forgotten in a hurry. The faces tell the story, a mask of mud, broken only by big white grins. This 48km stage took riders from the edge of Lake Macquarie, up the coast and through the sweet singletrack of Glenrock MTB Park, before finishing by the beach in Newcastle.
The gentle patter of rain in the pre-dawn light was probably not what most riders wanted to hear this morning, but it wouldn’t be a stage race without a little inclement weather – it’s all part of the journey, right? With the rain came more than a little mud. “This is just bullshit!” exclaimed one rider who’d been over the bars twice and whose brakes had long since stopped working. No mate, it’s not bullshit, it’s what mountain biking is all about!
With the morning rain and a few hundreds sets of tyre through it, it didn’t take long for the usual benign Wallarah fireroads to turn in to a war zone.
“That was filthy – there were bikes and bodies going everywhere!” laughed Rohan Adams.
The usually buff singletrack of Glenrock took on a more menacing, challenging character too. “Man, it was proper slick in there,” said Jenny Blair, “like real European-style, lots of roots!”
For the elites, it was always unlikely that we’d see any real changes in the overall classification, short of some serious mechanicals or crashes. But that didn’t stop the fast lads having a dig, with Rohan Adams launching an attack that prodded the lead pack into action. “My legs felt ok, so I thought ‘bugger it, let’s go’,” said Adams. “Once we hit Glenrock it was every man for himself.”
In the end, it was Trek’s Pete Hatton who managed to extract a small gap and take the stage win, just edging out Tasman Nankervis and Reece Tucknott. “The goal was to try and pull back some time on Torq, but a stage win is a nice consolation,” said Hatton.
“Actually, the best consolation was that it was a bloody fun stage, Glenrock was so much fun.”
Things almost came unstuck for Mark Tupalski. “I was full gas chasing them after I got a stick stuck in my spokes,” said Tupalski. And even though the Torq hammer lost some time today, his overall lead was too big to really be threatened. For defending champ Andy Blair it was a more rewarding day, finding himself in a three-man sprint for second place. “I was pretty stoked to really be a part of the race, after a couple of days out of it up front,” said Blair.
The final standings were no surprise, with the dominance of Mark Tupalski and his wingman Tasman Nankervis awarding them first and second, and Trek’s Reece Tucknott’s ferocious chasing down of attacks netting him third overall ahead of Pete Hatton.
In the women’s field, Jenny Blair’s seemingly tireless engine saw her knock down four stage wins and yet another overall title – her wardrobe must be bursting with pink leader’s jerseys. But not far off her wheel today was Naomi Williams, who had a cracking stage, finishing ahead of her teammate Rebecca Locke.
“Sometimes today, when you were sliding sideways, all you could do was laugh!” chuckled Willams.
“Bec and I had been riding together until the neutral section (part of the course was neutralised for safety concerns due to pedestrian traffic), but then she said “if you think you’ve got the legs to go, go,” because we thought perhaps Jenny would have a tougher time in the singletrack.” But the time gap Blair opened up on the flats was just too much in the end, and the overall standings stayed put; Blair first, Locke second and Williams in third.
- Two shots - both landscape
- Three shots - Big on top
- Four Shots - Big on Left
- Five Photos
- Two shots - landscape and square
- Three shots - Big landscape, two small squares
- Four Shots - All Same Size
- Mobile (new)
- Two shots - vertically stacked, both landscape
There’s no doubt that the second edition of the Port to Port MTB was a superb evolution, with the course changes getting the thumbs up from everyone involved.
“We take a look at the rider who comes in 150th and that’s who we target the course and event too,” said Chris Heverin, the event director. It’s a formula that we thoroughly agree with, as it offers a perfect mix of challenge and achievability for the elites all the way through to the bloke in footy shorts with a shopping rack on his bike. So roll on Port to Port MTB 2016 – we’ll be there for sure, and you should be too.
Event website here – http://porttoportmtb.com/