If you have raced the Port to Port or the Cape to Cape, you have probably met Sally Hill, Jason Dover and Chris Heverin. The intrepid trio first started these events in the late 2000s and ran the show until Ironman acquired them a decade later. In that time, these events became extraordinarily popular and are the highlight of the stage racing calendar for many riders. After a short hiatus away from organising mountain bike events, they are back with a brand new stage racing series that will take XCM racers to fresh destinations around the country.
Over 2022, the Quad Crown will be four, three-day events, with stops in Queensland, Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.
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What makes the Quad Crown different?
As with all of these destination style events, Quad Crown puts an emphasis on the place. Each stage is different, and the route is meticulously planned to take in the best trails and iconic scenery. Quad Crown takes that a step further by incorporating local breweries and vineyards for rider dinners each evening. Hill tells Flow they aim to create a vibe for racers to connect off the bike and share war stories from the day.
Being that this is a series, riders will accrue points across each event, with an overall winner crowned at the end. At the time of writing, we haven’t been able to confirm if a physical crown is up for grabs, but we do know there will be bragging rights and a prize for the overall winners.
There is cold hard cash up for grabs for the elite riders at the pointy end of the pack, though the overall prize purse is still to be announced. Weekend warriors in the age group categories will receive podium recognition and prizes from industry sponsors.
How will the events run?
Each race weekend kicks off with a prologue, which won’t be worth any series points but does determine race seeding. We expect this will be a hard-fought 4-6km for the elite field, and an excellent way for the weekend warriors to flush out the cobwebs from travel and get acquainted with the trails.
Hill tells Flow riders can tackle the prologue as many times as they’d like, to improve their time and overall seeding for the race — it will have a podium and prizes too.
Each race weekend will have two XCM stages that are between 50-60km, split by a ~20-35km sprint race on Saturday afternoon.
According to Hill, the venues hosting rider presentations will be the best watering holes in each town. There will be beverages, live music, and the opportunity for riders to immerse themselves in the local culture and get a sense of what makes these places great. The final podium will take place on Sunday, just after mid-day in the race village, and then it’s time to let your hair down and set fire to the dance floor at the after-party.
What are the race categories?
The Quad Crown has familiar racing divisions, with Male and Female U19, Open, and three Masters age group categories. There is an additional Elite Male and Female racing division, where cash money will be on the line for riders battling for the overall win on each stage.
In many similar stage races, the elite riders are mixed in with the open category. While rubbing elbows with pros on the start line is quite an experience, it’s not necessarily a fair fight competing for the same podium. Moving these riders out of the open category means that mere mortals are in with a shot at Quaddy glory.
The Quad Crown also has an e-Bike category, opening the events to a whole new suite of riders and adding an exciting element of battery management into the mix.
From the testing we have done here at Flow, we’ve determined on average, e-MTBs are good for about ~1500m of climbing (+/- 300m) on a single charge. There are a lot of factors in play that affects this figure, but a 50-60km course with 1000m+ of climbing is getting close to the limit of how much juice an e-MTB has on board. When you inject some elbows out racing into the equation, you might find yourself pedalling acoustically towards the end of the stage.
Four Quad Crown Locations
Having pioneered the Port to Port and Cape to Cape, Dover and Hill took riders to trails on the Central Coast and Margaret River that they otherwise may have never visited. With the Quad Crown, they are doing the same thing, flexing their course design muscles, and taking riders to trails they have probably never seen before. Many of the courses are still being finalised, but here is what we know so far.
1 – Sapphire Coast, NSW. 5-7 August
With the first two Quad Crown stops postponed, the series will now kick off on the Sapphire Coast, NSW 5-7 August. The course has yet to be announced, but Dover hinted to Flow that the stages will be targeted around Eden, though we’re not sure if that will include the new trails currently under construction. Either way, this is set to be a wonderful weekend of racing by the coast.
2 – East Gippsland, VIC. 9-11 September
The second crown will be awarded in Southeast Victoria, with racers taking on trails around East Gippsland from 9-11 September.
The prelude stage will run at a location near Lakes Entrance on Friday afternoon as a warm-up for the 55km course on Saturday morning. Kicking off with a lap of the Nowa Nowa MTB park, the course hits the East Gippsland Rail Trail and Gippsland Lakes Discovery trail toward the Colquhoun MTB Park. Riders will do a lap on the trails here before heading for the finish just outside Lakes Entrance.
After a quick recharge, stage two sets riders loose in the Colquhoun MTB park for a 33km sprint.
The first two stages see less than 500m of climbing, but that all changes for the finale. Over 45km, racers will climb 1001m from Barnsdale up to the Mt Taylor trail network. After exploring the singletrack, it’s all downhill back to the finish.
3- Sunshine Coast, QLD. 7-9 October
The thrid event will take place from 7-9 October, with the Quad Crown setting sail for the Sunshine Coast.
Everything kicks off on Friday with a 5km prelude, where riders will blast out the cobwebs around the Sugarbag trail network near Caloundra. With 70m of climbing, the top 100 finishers will earn priority seeding in the elite wave the following morning.
Day two kicks off with a 25km course touring the old school singletrack of Parklands. The stage will include iconic trails like Road Rage, Rock N Roll, Red Dog and Roo Valley, with a few fire road climbs thrown in, to hit a total of 500m ascending.
In the afternoon riders will head for Tewantin for another 29km stage with 574m of climbing. The course will tit just about ever trail Tewantin has to offer, and the old-school technical singletrack will make for a challenging stage — especially with the tiredness for the morning in your legs and body.
The ultimate stage of the Sunshine Coast Quad Crown will be the longest, covering 30km and 260m of climbing around Ewen Maddock Dam. The day kicks off with a ride along the edge of the dam and will be a race to the Ferny Forest loop. The inaugural Crown in the series wraps up with a drag race across the flats to the finish at Mooloolah Valley Country Club.
4 – Devonport, TAS. 18-20 November
The Quad Crown finale will jump across the Bass Strait to Tassie from 18-20 November, taking in trails across Penguin, Dial Range, Kelcey Tier, Wild Mersey and Sheffield.
Who is the Quad Crown for?
It’s a great time to get into mountain bike stage racing in Australia, as we are flush with options, each offering a different riding experience.
The Quad Crown seems to fall into a rough middle ground as to the difficulty of each event, and how much fitness you’ll need to thrive on a race weekend. Based on the stage profiles that have been released so far, these events will essentially be two big days on the bike for the weekend warriors. For the folks at the front of the race, the sprint stage tacked on the back of Saturday’s XCM will zap some firepower out of their legs, and we expect the race could easily be won or lost on this short and sharp effort.
Even still, the total ground covered will be less than any of the Epic series events by a significant margin, and the Redback too, but each race weekend is roughly the same kilometre-age as The GOAT with two days less riding — not including the prologue.
The biggest thing the Quad Crown brings to the table is in the racing venues. Many folks who have never had Mount Taylor, Bundadung, or Dial Ranges on their map will go there for these races and experience the trails. Each of these locations is slightly off the beaten track and may be smaller than the mega destinations attracting the masses, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth a trip — and the Quad Crown could be the catalyst that gets folks there to experience the trails.
For more info, pricing, and to register for the first crown in Victoria, head over to the Quad Crown website.
We’ll be keeping you up to date on the Quad Crown as more information comes to light. Stay tuned for detailed previews of each event and we’ll be on the ground covering all the action.