What can you expect from the Quad Crown Sunshine Coast? | Previewing the first round of the new race series

*Update: Unfortunately with water still leaking out of the ground in South East Queensland, and quite a bit more precipitation on the way the Quad Crown Sunshine Coast has been postponed to 7-9 October. For details on the other Quad Crown stops click here

The Quad Crown MTB Stage Racing Series kicks off with an escape from winter, rolling into the Sunshine Coast from June 10-12.

This brand new four-stop stage racing series is taking riders to new destinations in Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and Victoria for three days of racing.

What happened to East Gippsland?

The opener of the four-stop series initially saw the stage race roll into East Gippsland in March, but was ultimately pushed back to September. Race Directors Jason Dover and Sally Hill explained there were a number of compounding factors that led them to make this call. According to Dover, when they initially launched the series back in January, the NSW event hadn’t been totally finalised. When the event was finally confirmed, it left the calendar a bit lopsided.

“The way we were able to re-juggle the dates into the second half of the year, pushing the Victorian event back just made more sense, because it meant we could hold each event 6-8 weeks apart,” he says.

Dover went on to note that the course design for the Sapphire Coast event will be targeted around Eden.

With the original dates for East Gippsland in March, there were also lingering Covid travel restrictions, and being based in WA, Dover wouldn’t have been able to attend the first event in the Quad Crown series.

“We didn’t want to go into the event blind, not having Jason on the ground beforehand, particularly with this being the opening event,” continues Hill.

It’s been a tough couple of years for events, but the Quad Crown has pivoted and it looks to be smooth sailing from here.

So the Victorian stop was pushed back to September, and the warm weather, white sand beaches and stunning rainforests of Southeast Queensland now form the launchpad for this exciting new race series.

For a rundown of the Quad Crown, the other stops and how the series works, click here for our full explainer article.

Quad Crown Sunshine Coast race preview

Dover tells us there have been some teething issues in finalising the courses on the Sunshine Coast. There are quite a few boxes that need to be ticked between several stakeholders, and getting everyone on the same page has taken some time and required changes from the initial plans.

They are still going through the last approvals for alignments, and the final course maps are set to come out very soon. However, Dover has given Flow a detailed overview of what they are planning and the changes that have transpired so far.

Quad Crown Sunshine Coast Prelude | Sugarbag | 5km

The racing begins on Friday afternoon with the Prelude warm-up stage. For most, this will help folks shake the travel out of their legs, but it’s also how the start seeding for the first stage will be determined, with the top 100 places reserved for the elite wave.

Dover has outlined a 5km course, with about 70m of climbing at Sugarbag in Caloundra.

“The concept of the Prelude will be for the general riders to turn up, have a ride around the park and have some fun, test their bike out and make sure everything is working,” says Dover. “It will be ‘race if you want to race’ to get a spot in the top 100.”

Not to go all ‘mom’s spaghetti,’ but if you want to make the elite field, you have one shot, one opportunity to make it happen. So don’t let it slip.

Initially, the plan was to allow folks to ride the Prelude as many times as they wanted in pursuit of faster times, but that’s no longer the case. Now you have one shot at making the top 100. That said, the course will be open before the festivities kick-off for riders to take a look around.

The route through Sugarbag reads a bit like a grocery shopping list written by a kid in primary school, taking in trails like Fantails, Milky Way, Party Mix, Sweet Sugar and Bees Knees. Dover expects for the elite riders it will be a short sharp effort lasting about 15min,

Following the stage, there will be a podium ceremony and a function at a nearby brewery.

Quad Crown Sunshine Coast Stage One | Parklands | 25km

Only 15-min outside of town, stage one will take riders on a 25km journey around the Parklands Trail Network with 500m of climbing. Unfortunately, due to the extremely wet weather Southeast Queensland has experienced over the past few months, there was quite a bit of degradation, and this stage has been drastically reworked from the original plan.

“We were also mindful of what we wanted stage two to look like, and not wanting to smash everyone (from the start),” Dover says. “We don’t want to make it too hard for the average rider and the weekend warrior. We’re really making this event for the weekend warrior who wants to go to a location to experience the best trails and not just have it be a physical challenge.”

The elite wave will start in a group of 100, while the remainder of the riders will go in groups of 50 — this will be the format for the remaining stages.

The start-finish venue will be about 3km outside the park, with riders making their way to Parklands on fire roads. When the course hits singletrack it takes in trails like Lush, Cancer Tree, Road Rage, Rock N Roll, Red Dog and Roo Valley, all set amongst the beautiful local rainforest.

With this stage being particularly singletrack heavy, Dover thinks that the fire road lead-in could be spicy with riders jockeying for position, as overtaking once you’ve hit the singletrack will be difficult.

“I think the fact that we’ve got Road Rage later in the stage will be really challenging, especially for the front lot of riders, because it’s quite technical.

For the general riders, it’s going to be singletrack overload to start the event, in one of the best parks on the Sunshine Coast,” he says.

Parklands will be the first of two stages on the Saturday, so keep something in the tank for the afternoon.

Dover expects the elites will probably be done and dusted in about 90-min, while the remainder of the riders should be closer to two hours.

The race will finish at the same venue just outside the park, but don’t crack a cold one yet, because your race day is only half done.

Quad Crown Sunshine Coast Stage 2 | Tewantin  | 29km

The second stage of the Quad Crown Sunshine Coast was initially planned to be a 35km jaunt through Mapleton National Park. However, that has since changed too, with the race now headed for Tewantin.

The stage will kick off at a venue about 5km south of the trails, and over 29km and with 574m of climbing, the course will take in every trail at Tewantin.

“There is going to be a heap of single trail at Tewantin, and the race up there will be super interesting because we will go through the back streets to get to the park. There are few climbs, and I think there will be some jockeying for position before we get to the singletrack,” says Dover.

“Once we get to Tewantin, it’s pretty old school, ribbon trail, tight singletrack. I think actually getting around there at race speed and under pressure — it’s also the second stage when you might be carrying some tiredness from stage one — will be the real challenge,” he continues.

The original plan didn’t include Tewantin, but the old-school singletrack should make for an exciting finish to the first day of racing.

Located about a 15-20min drive from Parklands, the start-finish area for stage two is where the festival area will be set up. Everything will be waiting for riders as they arrive after the kickoff stage, with food, recovery and bike servicing available — including e-MTB charging.

Crossing the line with a combined 54km in your legs, it is now that you can pop the top on that frothy post-race brewski.

Quad Crown Sunshine Coast Stage 3 | Ewen Maddock Dam | 30km

The following morning, the ultimate stage of the Quad Crown Sunshine Coast will take in the trails around Ewen Maddock Dam, covering 30km with 260m of elevation.

The start-finish will once again be outside the park, this time at the Mooloolah Valley Country Club, and head for the north side of the dam. Riders will work their way around the lake to the Ferny Forrest loop, which has previously been used in 12 and 24-hour races.

“The first section of trails along the north side of the dam are quite wide, so it’s not necessarily singletrack, but there will be some early climbing. I think it will be a race to get to the Ferny Forrest singletrack,” says Dover

“We’ve used some trails that go out into the edges of the dam, which are pretty cool. I think the elites will be going too fast to notice, but there are some great views for the average riders,” he says.

It’s a race, but don’t forget to look around — especially around Ewen Maddock Dam.

Even with this stage being the longest of the three, Dover predicts that this will be another 90-min effort for the elites, with the average riders likely taking between 2 and 2.5-hours.

Race for Quaddie Glory

With the Quad Crown being a four-stop series, it’s cumulative, and there will be overall winners in each racing category. We should note that the Elites are an entirely separate field, so for those of us who aren’t contending for the pointy end, of the pointy end of the race, you’re in with a shot at Quaddie glory!

With that, the elite field is filling up fast, and we’ve confirmed that Brendan ‘Trekky’ Johnston, Dan McConnell, Em Viotto, Karl Michelin-Beard, Anna Beck and Briony Mattocks will be donning race plates on the Sunshine Coast.

The Elite field will be chasing cash prizes while the juniors, masters and e-Bike categories will receive prizes from the event sponsors.

Yep, there are actual crowns up for grabs — this not a drill.

Of course, all of this is in pursuit of the overall crown — yes, we have confirmed that physical crowns will be up for grabs. Points will be awarded on each stage, so a poor performance on one stage could tank your chances of becoming the monarch crowned at the end of the series.

Entry is open now for the first round, follow the link to the Quad Crown website for more info and to register.

Get ready for a dirty weekend on the Sunshine Coast.

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