Press Release: Debut winners and defending champions stood on the top step of the podium as the 2023 Reef to Reef finished on the iconic Four Mile Beach in Port Douglas.
Riders started the final day at Mount Molloy, making their way through the stunning Tropical North Queensland scenery before hitting the famous Bump Track for a fast and furious descent to the beach. The 46km stage finished with a blast up Four Mile Beach to the finish line.
Leanna Ali, Regional Director of The IRONMAN Group Oceania, organisers of Reef to Reef, said that the team was looking forward to welcoming riders back to the event this week.
“Our team is looking forward to bringing hundreds of mountain bike riders back to the region this week,” she said. “Reef to Reef is a great riding and social event, with it providing a chance for riders to relax at the end of the stage and enjoy the company of those joining them on the trails.
“It’s set to be a great four days of riding and we look forward to seeing plenty of smiling faces coming across the finish line at the end of each stage,” said Ali.
What’s Reef to Reef?
Reef to Reef provides a number of ways for riders to be involved, with both four day and single day Triple-R options. A highlight of Reef to Reef is pairs racing, where teams of two take on the event together, with there also the option of entering the event as a solo rider.
The event begins at the iconic Smithfield Mountain Bike Park, with riders taking on 18km of world class single track, steep climbs and fast, flowing descents.
On the second day the action heads onto the Tablelands and Davies Creek Mountain Bike Park, with almost 40km of riding and some of the best single track around. The third day of racing will see the event head to Mount Molloy, with riders taking in some incredible rainforest trails.
The final day of the event also features the famous Triple-R with riders starting in Mount Molloy before heading down the Bump Track before finishing on Four Mile Beach in front of the Port Douglas Surf Club.
How it all went down
Joel Green and Tali Lane Welsh continued to lead the way in the men’s pairs, with the duo claiming overall victory in their first visit to Reef to Reef.
Green and Lane Welsh crossed the finish line in Port Douglas almost five minutes clear of Cameron Wright and Aden De Jager, with Lachlan Allison and Benjamin Iles third.
The top three finishers today were mirrored on the overall podium, with Green and Lane Welsh almost 17 minutes ahead of second, with third a further five minutes behind.
Lane Welsh said that the overall victory was special for the pair.
“It’s pretty big for us, it’s the second event of the Epic Series that we’ve done, we raced Cape to Cape last year, as soon as we did that we knew how awesome they were and we were pretty committed to do as many as we could,” he said. “We booked in for this one and coming into it we didn’t have any crazy expectations, we just wanted to do as good as we could, we have some good form at the moment so we’re pretty happy to take the win.”
Green said they enjoyed the challenges of the final stage after spending a lot of time on the bike this week.
“Stage four was really fun, coming down the bump track was cool, even just coming down on the beach and finishing on the beach, I don’t think there’s a finish line like this in any other event in Australia, it was a super cool experience,” said Green. “We kind of thought we’d just see how we were going because as the week has gone on we’ve got more and more tired because we’ve travelled a lot in the last two weeks, we felt surprisingly good and then we got a gap and thought we would try and finish on a high and race as well as we could.”
Defending mixed pairs champions Emma Viotto and Karl Michelin-Beard made it back-to-back Reef to Reef titles, with the duo leading the event from start to finish.
Viotto and Michelin-Beard took the title by more than 10 minutes from Kirsty McCallum and Max Williams, with Michael Denton and Emily Hill rounding out the podium.
Not only was it a second straight win for Viotto but the Canberran is also a Reef to Reef founding rider, having taken part in the event every year since its inception.
“It’s always nice to have the win, to race our bikes, but to win is a bonus,” she said. “Today we wanted to see if we could stay with the front guys and we managed to stay with the Masters, we had a pretty smooth run, we just wanted to take it easy down the Bump Track, trying to not get any flats but we got a flat anyway, it was beautiful, it’s always nice to finish in Port Douglas on the beach and now it’s time for some drinks and to celebrate.
Michelin-Beard said they enjoyed the descent back to the coast from the Mount Molloy start line.
“It always feels good to win, these races are always good for us, a nice holiday away but it feels good to win, I think we’ve both naturally competitive people so winnings feels good,” he said. “It was really good out there today, it was dusty, there were a couple of bits that were in the course last year that we avoided this year that were bogged out, it was nice to not have to ride through the bog, it was really good. The Bump Track was a bit blown out at the bottom, but it was pretty fun, I think that’s where I got the flat, conditions were really fast.”
Mother and daughter duo Meaghan Stanton and Zoe Binder dominated the women’s pairs, claiming the title by almost an hour from Karis Aplin and Sarah Dunnage. Alex Hall and Kathryn Deed finished third overall 10 minutes further behind.
“It meant a lot just riding with my daughter Zoe, it was great to have four days just riding together and riding on new trails we really enjoyed it,” said Stanton. “Day four was good, it was a bit of just get there, destination syndrome wanting to get to the beach, it was good when we got to the bump track because we knew it was all downhill and nice and easy so that was a good mental hurdle to get over, and then the bump track itself was so fun at the top but then it was pretty steep towards the bottom so by the end we were pretty happy when it flattened out because our hands were sore from braking, it was a new experience to go down it and experience it.”
Binder said that the experience of racing together was something that they both enjoyed.
“It was cool, we haven’t done pairs racing together, it was nice to be able to share it, we each had our different strengths and took it in turns going at the front but it was good, a great four days with different riding, we got a bit of everything,” she said.
The final day of Reef to Reef also included the 31st running of the famous Triple-R, with hundreds of riders taking part in the iconic single-day event.
Reef to Reef comment – The IRONMAN Group Oceania Spokesperson
“During the third stage of this year’s Reef to Reef, a significant number of riders took a wrong turn which led them onto another trail off the marked course. These riders followed conflicting signage that had been installed that morning for an upcoming running event that crossed the Reef to Reef course, which caused confusion. Following this, a mixture of riders doing the correct and incorrect courses crossed the finish line. As a result of this, the Commissaire, in consultation with event organisers, decided that results for the stage would be neutralised, with results from stage three not counting towards the overall General Classification for any riders.”
Reef to Reef – General Classification
Commtel Coast Off Road – Joel Green & Tali Lane Welsh – 4:06:48
Insert Team Name Here – Cameron Wright & Aden De Jager – 4:23:40
LaBiles – Lachlan Allison & Benjamin Iles- 4:28:14
Shimano MyRide – Emma Viotto & Karl Michelin-Beard – 4:57:13
#SparkThatChat – Kirsty McCallum & Max Williams – 5:09:06
Salt Shakes – Emily Hill & Michael Denton – 5:14:59
Trek Shimano Australia – Meaghan Stanton & Zoe Binder – 5:25:22
Western Reefers – Karis Aplin & Sarah Dunnage – 6:24:19
Kath and Al – Kathryn Deed & Alex Hall – 6:34:26
For more on Reef to Reef visit: https://reeftoreefmtb.com/
Reef to Reef is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and features on the It’s Live! in Queensland events calendar.