Rowena Fry makes it three from three so far at Stage 3 of the Ingkerreke Commercial Mountain Bike Enduro – a 49km single track sweetener; whilst Michael Crosbie takes his first win ahead of the Specialized-Swell duo Shaun Lewis and Andy Blair.
The stage began at Alice Springs Telegraph Station heading out on 4WD tracks before becoming an almost continual trail of single track through some of the region’s best trails, and finishing up at Lasseters Hotel Casino.
At the half way point at the front end of the field, Lewis, Crosbie and Ben Hogarth were fanging hard together on the sweeping single tracks as Andy Blair played catch-up after being stuck with a flat tyre early on in the piece.
Blair said he didn’t panic, but just kept working it. When he came towards the end of the course at the water tower, he could see Crosbie and Lewis just one minute ahead, and was hoping to retain his yellow jersey for the overall lead; which he still holds by 1 minute and 31 seconds.
However it was Crosbie’s fine form which held off the fast finishing Lewis in second place, and Blair taking third, to cross the line first in 2:03.41.
“The plan early on in the race was to see what everyone else was doing. I was riding with my mate Kyle Ward before he had a mechanical at the 30km mark; then there was me Lewis, Hogarth and Blair just behind us.” Crosbie recounts.
“We started to tempo through the single track and Lewis and I got a gap at about the 40km mark and just kept riding away. I was lucky enough at the end to time trial through to the finish and unfortunately Lewis got a flat right near the finish.
“I’m feeling a lot better than yesterday though as I was just finding my legs; and today I was able to open it up a bit so I’m stoked,” Crosbie said.
Swell-Specialized rider Shaun Lewis is making a habit of second place, but was on the defensive today for team-mate Andy Blair due to his flat during the early stages of the race.
“The start was pretty quick with a big bunch all fighting for position. But my team mate (Blair) flatted so from there I took the more defensive role and followed everyone for a while.” Lewis said.
“When Andy wasn’t in the front group, my role is to not push the pace; giving him as much of a chance to get back in the front bunch.
“Crosbie was doing really well and took the lead so I was able to follow him; but I hit a gutter at the end resulting in a flat. But I’m happy we both got up for 2nd and 3rd and Blair retains the yellow.” Added Lewis.
In the women’s field, it was at the halfway point where in-form Rowena Fry was spotted screaming in front and having a great race, sitting 2 minutes ahead of Jenny Fay, before finishing convincingly in her third 1st place of the stage race in a time of 2:19.36.
“It was a great day today, lots and lots of single track, but pretty tough to back up after the Hill Climb and Stage 1 yesterday.” Fry said.
“Today I’m a bit better suited to the conditions on the single track than Fay, and at about a third of the way through I put the hammer down a bit to try and get a bit of a gap; whilst still looking after my legs with tomorrows big stage looming. I just kept working to the finish. It was tough!” Added Fry.
Jenny Fay felt like she chased Fry from the get-go.
“I knew I had to stay up with Row right from the beginning. We rode with each other and fought for position going into the single tracks.” Recounts Fay.
“I got a bit of a jab on one of the rocks and she (Fry) got a bit of a gap; I kept chasing and chasing her. It’s not over until the finish line so I just buried myself and raced to chase her the whole way.
“The course is a lot more technical than yesterday – it’s my nemesis. I’m much better on smoother surfaces. But I’m learning so much already this week as I want to improve technically so this stage race is where I need to be.” Fay said.
Unfortunately Target-Trek rider and yellow jersey contender Jenni King has had to pull out of the stage race due to medical reasons.
Tomorrow sees riders take on the biggest stage of the week, a point to point iconic outback 88km course from remote community Santa Teresa, through to Alice Springs. Riders will traverse a variety of beautiful and rarely accessible desert terrains and is set to test everyone’s legs.
STAGE THREE MEN
- Michael Crosbie 2:03.41
- Shaun Lewis 2:04.32
- Andrew (Andy) Blair 2:04.51
STAGE THREE WOMEN
- Rowena Fry 2:19.16
- Jenny Fay 2:21.37
- Terri Rhodes 2:30.20
OVERALL STANDINGS MEN (Total Time: Stages 1, 2 & 3)
- Andrew (Andy) Blair 3:32.25
- Shaun Lewis 3:33.56
- Michael Crosbie 3:34.38
OVERALL STANDINGS WOMEN (Total Time: Stages 1, 2 & 3)
- Rowena Fry 3:59.13
- Jenny Fay 4:02.21
- Terri Rhodes 4:17.36