The Pioneer MTB Stage Race – Entries Now Open

Entries are now open for the Pioneer Mountain Bike Stage Race. The new course for 2018 will see riders race 450km with 15,500m climbing over six days from November 25 to 30 2018, linking the best back country riding in the South Island on a course that starts and finishes in Queenstown.

Riders in the November 2018 race will start their six days of riding with a 22km prologue at iconic Coronet Peak, with five longer stages to follow, taking riders as far south-east as Alexandra and the Clutha River, before returning to the finish line back in Queenstown, completing 450km of riding with 15,500m of climbing.

The Pioneer Overview Map 2018

Race Director Bec Williams says much thought and planning has gone into the new course, to ensure the long-term sustainability of an event that quickly established its reputation as a world leading event in its first two editions.

“Riders can look forward to a course that will boast plenty of single track and will deliver a grand tour of the most stunning backdrops you could ask for. Riders will be sent deep into remote back country New Zealand, where they will really discover what it means to be a Pioneer.”

Many of the trails cross private land and can only be ridden while racing The Pioneer, so it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to gain access to best riding in New Zealand. Riders should expect big scenery and big climbs as they ascend tussock covered hills, traverse mountain ranges, explore secluded valleys and revive the spirit of the original pioneers.

Williams said the decision to reduce the duration of the event by one day and start and finish in Queenstown will generate further appeal to riders and supporters.

“Having the one start and finish location obviously makes the event easier from a logistics point of view for organisers and riders alike. Travel can now be booked in and out of Queenstown, supporters can base themselves there throughout The Pioneer, and it will be easier for our suppliers and contractors to support the race.”

“But it was vital that any of those decisions did not compromise the quality of the riding or the Pioneer experience, and we have done that with a course that will again challenge every rider, provide breathtaking views along the way and see us hosted in some amazing Central Otago towns.”

Those towns to host Pioneer riders in 2018 are: Queenstown (start and finish), Alexandra (two nights) and Bannockburn (two nights) before the event finishes at Arrowtown.

Terrain will vary each day, but includes a mix of local trails, farm track, NZ Cycle Trails and single track – so riders should be prepared to really see what they (and their bikes) are really made of. Overall, the course is non-technical, so a good set of lungs will be the most important asset.

The course will be clearly marked, and full course maps will be provided over the course of the next few months as more detail is revealed, but navigation skills are not required, each stage will have several check points and aid stations to keep riders on-track and well looked after.

Each day’s racing finishes in a host town with local hospitality on offer at the event village, ensuring each stage is unique and enjoyable. To cap it all off riders will finish back in Queenstown, an amazing place to celebrate an incredible achievement.

Riders will again have the chance to secure entry to the unofficial world championship of mountain bike stage racing in South Africa, with five age group winners (5), five age group runners up (5) and five lottery winners securing a place at the Absa Cape Epic for 2019.

Entries are now open at www.thepioneer.co.nz

For some riders that will mean finding a team mate. The event website allows the uploading of profiles to find a Pioneer team mate, and organisers also host a ‘find a teammate’ Facebook group, details again can also be found at www.thepioneer.co.nz

New this year is the option of an entry fee payment plan for athletes. This option will be available for a limited period, opening 24 November 2017 and closing 25 March 2018 and allows entry fees to be spread out across four payments. 

Stage information

Prologue Coronet Peak Own Accommodation 22km 1500m
Stage 1 Queenstown – Queenstown Alexandra 66km 2878m
Stage 2 Alexandra – Alexandra Alexandra 114km 2750m
Stage 3 Alexandra – Bannockburn Bannockburn 75km 2600m
Stage 4 Bannockburn – Bannockburn Bannockburn 83km 3100m
Stage 5 Bannockburn – Arrowtown Own Accommodation 67km 2800m

Estimates of the type of riding throughout the Pioneer

36% – 4WD/Farm Track
35% – Cycle Trails / Single Track
15% – Gravel Road
14% – Sealed Road

For more detail on each stage, CLICK HERE

Additional information can be found at www.thepioneer.co.nz

Port to Port MTB 2015, Day 3: Bring on the Froth

66 kilometres is a big old ride, but when it finishes with a wicked singletrack descent, you tend to forget the pain. Overall race leader Mark Tupalski echoed what we heard time and time again: “The moto stuff was awesome, you could just keep pumping it like a big BMX track, and that fresh new singletrack at the end was unreal.”

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Awaba MTB Park brought the singletrack that everyone has been hankering for.
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Naomi Williams on the tail of Jenny Blair heading into the classic race track of Awaba.

The third stage of Port to Port MTB 2015 was an entirely new addition to the race.

“After last year’s race, we rode Awaba mountain bike park and we decided it had to be part of Port to Port,” said Jason Dover, one of the drivers behind the race.

Not only did the course setters squeeze in 12km of Awaba, but they also strung together a killer descent, mixing plenty of moto trails and fresh cut singletrack.

 

Today saw the field swell, with a number of riders joining the fray for the weekend, and so the neutral start as the pack rolled out from Cooranbong was a pretty incredible sight. But with the trails of Awaba not far out, things quickly got heated, with the leaders jostling to get the advantage and dictate the pace in the singletrack. Torq rider Tasman Nankervis got the holeshot, but Andy Blair inserted himself into the lead spot before long, keeping a lid on the youngsters.

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Tasman leaps into the singletrack first.

Unlike yesterday’s stage which dragged the climbing out, today’s stage got it over and done quickly, like ripping off a band-aid. Unsurprisingly, it was the same Torq duo of Tupalski and Nankervis who launched the first attack, and only Reece Tucknott had the legs to go with them. “Tas hit it pretty hard, I think he though I was Hatto!,” said Tucknott, who held on during some massive accelerations from, before the trio settled into a rhythm and began to work together like clockwork.

“Tas was climbing like a beast – I kept asking him to back it off a fraction,” said Tupalski. “Yeah, I got a bit too excited – I thought Reece was Hatto, and all I could think is ’12 seconds, 12 seconds’ so I kept trying to drop him,” laughed Nankervis. “At the top of the climb we knew we had a big time gap, but yesterday we thought we had a big gap too, when it was really only 20 seconds, so we just kept pushing.”

Trek Racing Australia’s Reece Tucknott won the stage, a real confidence boost for the young fella ahead of his World Cup campaign this year.

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This is what it’s all about at the end of the day.

With the lead group of three finishing together, the notable casualty in the overall standings was Pete Hatton, who slipped from his second place. “I think I’ve probably lost the podium, which is a disappointment,” said Hatton.

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Team Torq do a great job of fostering young talented riders, Josh Battey is one of them.
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Bryan Dunkin is a local hitter, and his bike skills are insane.

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One of the real standout aspects of this year’s Port to Port is just how many young riders are at the pointy end; “I think the average podium age has been about 15,” joked Tupalski, himself still only 24. But in all seriousness, the talent on show particularly in the Torq and Trek teams is pretty staggering. There’s been plenty of talk of a changing of the guard, but you’d be a fool to write off Blairy yet – “I had a rubbish day today,” said Blair, “but you don’t get slow all of a sudden, I’m just tired at the moment.” Blair added reflectively: “Perhaps today was an exercise in what I’ll go through over the next few years as I do slow down. But one positive is that when you’re off the pace it takes you back to what it was like when you weren’t racing to win, and you remember why most people do these races, meeting new people and not taking it all too seriously.”

Jenny Blair, who by her own admission isn’t the strongest in the technical stuff, was surprised by just how much she enjoyed the extra singletrack of today’s stage.

“That was awesome – the loose descent was so good! Just get yourself behind the saddle and have a go! You really appreciate the singletrack after a lot of fireroad over the last couple of days.”

Jenny’s lead is looking very safe now, short of total implosion on stage 4.

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Team 4Shaw riders Naomi Williams and Rebecca Locke hold second and third in the women’s field. “I don’t have any legs – that was a long stage for day 3,” said Locke. The fatigue came into play at the end of the stage too, on the steeper singletrack. “I looked back over my shoulder and Bec was off the bike and hanging out of a tree like a koala!” said Williams.

The consensus from the pack about the new Stage 3 course was overwhelmingly positive, and tomorrow’s stage has seen some serious tweaks too, with another supersized helping of singletrack in Glenrock. Come back tomorrow for the fourth and final instalment of our 2015 Port to Port MTB coverage.

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This guy. This guy is a working class hero.

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http://porttoportmtb.com/

Click here for the full results from Port to Port MTB here.

Avantiplus Hellfire Cup: Final Race Wrap

The Avantiplbus Hellfire Cup is a done deal! Read on to learn how it all went down over the final two days.

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STAGE 4: OVERVIEW

The time trial course takes racers out of the village in a 6km cruise stage to the time trial start on the Marchweil property. Special access to the stunning private property has been arranged for the Hellfire Cup which follows the coast and is below the event’s namesake Hellfire Bluff. The course then heads into nearby hills via a plantation fire road. The riders then jump off via a single track gully link which takes them onto the main climb for this short and sharp 14k time trial course.
STAGE 4: RESULTS
Day 3 started cool after a clear starry night over the Kellevie race village. Tasmanian competitors wandering around in t-shirts were greeted by interstate competitors in down jackets and beanies for the race briefing. The cruise stage allowed racers a chance to chat amongst the pack – there’s nothing quite like seeing a huge pack of riders winding their way up the hills on the gravel back roads of South East Tasmania. The chance to chat with pros and just enjoy the scenery was a nice leadup to the time trial stage.
At the picturesque Marchweil property the competitors assembled again surrounded by farm houses and a sea of lycra. The competitors were put into seeded pairs based on their results over the proceeding days, and were sent off in 30 second intervals.
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For the Elite Male category Team Torq had a better outing than on Stage 3, and recorded a stage winning time of 25m 46s. They were followed a little over a minute later by Team 4SHAW who came in at 26m 57s. Team Torq’s strong performance will eat into the lead that 4SHAW and Avantiplus have carved out into the overall standings, but will not take them up a place on the overall podium at this stage. The competitive team of Avantiplus Launceston came looking like they hard worked hard for their time of 27m 12s.
The Elite Female teams Team Torq (Em Parkes & Jenni King) and Willylocke (Rebecca Locke & Naomi Williams) came across the line within 2 seconds of each other with Team Torq sneaking the stage win with a time of 33m 06s.
In the Elite Mixed competition team Jeffy & Pesta (Jarrod Moroni & Peta Mullens) came in very strong and took out stage 4 with a time of 31m 11s. Team My Mountain (Melissa Anset & David Ransom) followed in with a time of 33m 09. Less than a minute later A+ Launceston (Sam Calow & Rowena Fry) pushed across the line at 33m 47s.
 
STAGE 5: OVERVIEW
This afternoon stage is based around the classic Kelleive XC course, made famous by the Kellevie 24 Hour races. This track has been further developed and improved over the course of 2014 by new landowners Mtn Trails. The 9.5k course is all single track, which is ridden as a pairs relay for teams and lone wolves get to enjoy two laps of the course.
Hellfire Cup Final wrap 2
After leaving the race village the riders descend into the Kellevie rainforest. This section is a fast-riding, winding path that rewards riders willing to brave the encroaching trees for an opportunity to separate themselves from the pack. The course also features a short, sharp ascent up the Shimano Switchbacks across the crest of the hill. Following a quick paddock sprint, the riders meet the 4SHAW rock garden. After that they will go into the Jeanneret Electrical Technologies luge which will
The return leg is ideal for riders with big engines as pure power here will be the determining factor on the undulating blast back into the Race village and transition.
STAGE 5: RESULTS
Team Torq has notched up a narrow win (57m 59s) just 7 seconds faster than Team 4SHAW (Tom Goddard & Scott Bowden). There was only a small gap between the top 2 placed teams and Avantiplus Launceston which followed in at 59m 32s.
In the Elite Female category Torq Girls (Em Parkes & Jenni King) continue to dominate with a combined time of 1h 09m 54s. Followed closely by WillyLocke with a time of 1h 11m 48s.
In the Mixed Elite category Jeffy & Pesta (Jarrod Moroni & Peta Mullens) have taken out first place for Stage 5 with a time of 1h 07m 33s. Team My Mountain followed less than half a minute next with a time of 1h 7m 57s. Popular local riders Ride Bellerive (Jason Mennitz & Edwina Hughes) were in top form and took out 3rd with a time of 1h 09m 56s.
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STAGE 6: RESULTS
 
Stage 6 of the Avantiplus Hellfire Cup is an optional night event at the end of Day 3 – it’s an XC dash for cash over 9km. This has the first man and woman across the line racing for $1,000 each from Laser Electrical and bragging rights as the King & Queen of Kellevie for 2014.
In a tight race, the King of Kellevie was won by Chris Hamilton with a time of 24m 58s. Chris was followed by the Queen of Kellevie Peta Mullens with a cracking time on the tough course of 29m 02s.
Stage 6 is a special stage and times do not contribute to final race standings, and was just for the people who felt they hadn’t been punished enough by the proceeding stages. It was only the hardy few who could stomach the prospect of a 3rd race leg in one day, however a good portion of the race village turned up at night to cheer them in across the line.
 
STAGE 7: SUMMARY
 
A beautiful sunny morning met competitors, even though the race village was a little slow in waking up after a few days of racing. Late night hooting and hollering was heard happening at the Iron House bar after a sunny afternoon which may have had a little something to do with this.
The Tuff Torq Elevator is a nasty little hill climb designed to wring the last drops of power out of very tired legs. Tough on a good day, but after 3 days of racing? Utterly Brutal. The course heads straight out of the village and up the hill that looks over the race village. Elevation ramps up quickly and switchbacks turn into an uphill straight push sure to demoralise all but the strongest legs. Elites and punters alike found this tough, and those who got the early run at 8am were grateful when they saw the temperature rise for the noon second wave.
Pairs are split for this stage, and sent off in seeded waves.
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Peta Mullens and Jarrod Moroni – get the pair, for just $5000!
STAGE 7: RESULTS
Team Torq (Mark Tupalski & Chris Hamilton) had a good outing (18m 59s) and nibbled into Team 4SHAW’s lead who placed second with a time of 19m 07s. AvantiPlus Launceston were close behind with a time of 19m 36s.
A great stage for the Elite Women racers Willy Locke who took out the stage with a time of 25m 59s. This placed them well in front of Torq with a time of 30m 15s.
Team My Mountain (David Ransom & Melissa Anset) had blazing fast run of 23m 24s. Second place went to Avantiplus Launceston with a time of 23m 38s, which was followed by Jeffy & Pesta (Peta Mullens & Jarrod Moroni) who came in at 24m 08s.
STAGE 8: SUMMARY
 
The last hurrah for the Avantiplus Hellfire Cup 2014 is the Jettech Hectic Mayhem dirt crit. This repurposed motocross track has sweeping bermed dirt corners that allow for a final fast blast over the short course. The course is hectic and close and provides a great opportunity for spectators and team members to encourage their mates along. At around 3-4 minutes for the lap (fast riders), major mechanicals is about the only thing the elites have to worry about and this last leg is all about having a final blast to wring out the last drop of sweat for Hellfire 2014.
 
STAGE 8: RESULTS
The short course was EXTREMELY closely contested by the 3 leading Elite Male teams. Avantiplus Launceston took it with a time of 6m 20s, followed a second later by 4SHAW and another second later by Team Torq. Insanely close stuff.
Hellfire Cup Final wrap 6
WillyLocke, half impressed, took home the five gorillas.
WillyLocke continued to have a great day on the bike, with a combined time of 7m 10s on the short course. Torq Girls recorded a time of 7m 17s for their last stage of racing.
Avantiplus Launceston had a good hit out (6m 55s) and found themselves another 9 seconds on Team My Mountain (7m 06s). Ride Bellerive came in next with a time of 7m 23s.
FINAL HELLFIRE CUP 2014 OVERALL RESULTS
After 4 days of racing, enjoying the very best Tasmania has to offer in weather (read: All of the weather – sometimes all at once) the 2014 Avantiplus Hellfire Cup is done and dusted for another year. The organisers would like to take a moment to thank all of the volunteers who have contributed to the event, you are filled with the Spirit of Hellfire and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. They would also like to thank our generous sponsors and the the community of mountain biking which has got behind us in a big way. Finally, we would like to thank all our competitors for coming out and racing with us, we hope you enjoyed your brief stay in Hell and will join us next time!
The Hellfire Cup is committed to equal prize money for both genders and the winners in each elite category will go home with $5,000 in prize money, second place takes home $2,000 and third place elite team takes home $1,000.
Hellfire Cup Final wrap 3
Team 4-Shaw, surely must be pretty chuffed to have edged out the powerful Torq team for the win.
Elite Male Competition
The Elite male competition was a close run affair with the 3 leading teams looking like they could all take the event out at any stage. In the end the local knowledge and sheer power on the bike won the day and Team 4SHAW will go home as victors for the 2014 Hellfire Cup with $5,000 cash in their pocket. Their total cumulative time for the event was 6h 16m 28s edging out Avanti Plus Launceston who came in second place overall with a combined time of 6h 23m 55sAvantiplus Launceston will take home $2,000 prize money. Team Torq put in a stellar effort and were on the podium in third place overall with a time of 6h 24m 52s and will take home $1,000 prize money.
Elite Female Competition
The Elite Female competition was tight for the duration of the race – often seconds separating them on return from individual stages. At the end of play on day 4 the honours went to WillyLocke with a massive effort of 7h 39 18s combined time. This category was extremely close, in the end Team Torq trailed by only 31 seconds behind 1st place with a combined total time of 7h 39m 49s.
Elite Mixed Competition
From Day 2 onwards Jeffy & Pesta (Jarrod Moroni & Peta Mullens) looked very strong and they keep building their lead into an unassailable margin. By the end of Day 4 their total combined time was 7h 07m 01s which could not be touched by second placed team Team My Mountain (David Ransom & Melissa Anset) who recorded a total time of  7h 33m 50s. Avantiplus Launceston (Sam Calow & Rowena Fry) will take home third place overall in the mixed competition with a final time of 7h 35s 08s.

 

Racing: Counting Down to Wildside 2014

The four-day stage race takes riders on a journey through the lush landscape from Cradle Mountain to Strahan. Most days feature two race stages, with transit or ‘cruise’ stages in between. These allow riders to spin their legs and catch up with people who bust through the competition stages at different speeds.

‘The journey passes through the very unique landscape of Tasmania’s West Coast. It starts in alpine country, descends through rainforest and ends on a wild beach,’ says Race Director Nic Deka.

‘Along the way, the race follows historical trails, visits small, welcoming communities and provides a diversity of scenery and experiences that are unique in Australia.’

The entry list typically sees a 55/45 split between local and interstate or overseas competitors ready for the adventure. Previous winners include Olympians Sid Taberlay (a record five times), Mary Grigson, Lisa Mathison and Dan McConnell. This list exhibits the calibre of the racing on offer and the high regard riders have for this event at the elite end of the field.

The Montezuma Falls stage is one of the best. Fast, lush and with this swing bridge to navigate too.
The Montezuma Falls stage is one of the best. Fast, lush and with this swing bridge to navigate too, it’s certainly memorable.

But Wildside’s longstanding success lies in the way it offers a fun, rewarding and unique experience for riders with a range of goals.

‘We continue to get many people who are not serious riders who set Wildside as a challenge to recover from a serious illness or injury, something to do before they die, or simply to improve their health and fitness,’ says Nic.

‘It’s great to see the excitement and the tension at registration, the buzz at stage finishes, but most of all the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that people get from finishing the event in Strahan.

‘The fact that about 50% of our entrants are returning competitors also adds to our enjoyment because we get to know our competitors and it makes the whole experience more personal both for them and us.’

Canberra Liv/Giant rider, Eliza Eldridge Bassett, is returning this year after sharing the experience with her immediate family in 2012. This year the party list is even bigger.

‘(Last time) my dad, James, and my brother, Til, raced, and my mother Julie did the support and vehicle driving. My mum saw how much fun we had last time and decided she wanted to join in on the action too.

‘This year my uncle and aunt will come along and do the support. We’ve really made it into a whole family affair!’ Eliza’s partner, Mark Tupalski (TORQ Nutrition), will also be along for the journey pushing the field at the pointy end.

‘Mark will be at the race to fight for a position on the podium, I’ll be there to have fun and challenge my time from 2012, likewise with my father and brother, and my mum will be there to have an adventure on her bike and take in the stunning scenery,’ adds Eliza, pointing toward the broad appeal of the short stages that travel through a little seen part of the world.

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‘For me, the biggest draw card is the country we race through. The landscape is stunning, and being able to ride through it adds a different dimension from the usual bushwalking and driving trips I’ve done through the area.

‘I love the format of the race itself. The stages are reasonably short and super fun, although sometimes quite hard! And the cruise stages let you recover from the racing and have some social time.

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‘Starting in waves each stage lets you get to know your fellow riders and have a ‘mini race’ within the race; and when you’re not at the pointy end of the field like me, it means you get to feel like you are!’

The event has a reputation for tight organisation, catering that people rave about, and, most years, at least one stage that sees riders covered from head to toe in mud. Accommodation and transport packages are available, although many riders choose to bring someone along to drive a support vehicle and fill up additional accommodation options nearby.

The physical and mental journey of the race is sure to complement the visual journey. Getting from point to point with a tight crew of family or friends adds to the experience, making it more special still.

‘The fact that families and friends share the experience is something that we encourage,’ says Nic. ‘It’s very much reflected by our organisational crew who are our friends and family members too.’

Over 400 riders will start the journey on Friday January 25. They will take in 140km of competition stages, and 60km of transit sections. Entries are open for a few more days.

 

The hard road to Cooktown, Part 5

We rejoin our troupe of very sore, very dusty Croc’ers after stages 5  and 6 – some of the longest and hottest legs of the Croc. Stage 5 presented riders with a massive 163km, while stage 6 ran from Granite Creek Dam to Laura via the historic Old Coach Trail, an old mining travel route and contained some brutal climbs. Laura lies on the entrance to the Cape York Peninsula about 120km inland from the coast in Far North Queensland and is a small township of 80 residents, which was more than tripled by the Crocodile Trophy visitors.

At the pointy end, Australian Mark Frendo has maintained a very healthy 11-minute lead over Canada’s Cory Wallace. “I’m not looking forward to tomorrow’s stage, because I don’t think that Cory is going to back off”, said Frendo as he and Wallace both enjoyed a Paddle Pop in the 40+ degree heat at Laura today.

It was a rough trot for some of the Il Pastaio team. Big Martin did not enjoy the climbs of stage 6, saying, “Those were not hills, they were freakin’ ramps. Some climbing spurs would have come in handy today.” Young Phil had a barbwire fence incident as well on stage 5, while Old Pete maintained his perpetually happy mood which seems to make him ideally suited to multiday racing.

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Phil does his best Johnny Hoogerland impression.
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Martin questions the wisdom of riding 163km in the outback.
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It’s a lonely old road.

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Big Martin is built for the downhill which, thankfully, tend to follow the ups.
Big Martin is built for the downhills which, thankfully, tend to follow the ups.

Cape To Cape MTB Gets Underway! Blair And Bennett Grab Stage 1

Some of the world’s best mountain bike riders today kicked off the sixth annual Cape to Cape MTB with an incredible racing start.

They were joined by over 1,200 riders gathered at the footstep of Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse in Augusta, ready to tackle the 40km first day of the four-day test of endurance.

The iconic Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse and spectacular scenery took a back seat as riders were hit straight up with a 4km climb up Skippy Rock Road before dropping into Augusta’s stately forest. Riders then dropped down onto Deepdene Beach, popping out at Cosy Corner Road before traversing private farmland. A final stretch of tarmac led straight into the finish line at Hamelin Bay.

Dan McConnel and Paul Van Der Ploeg have a laugh about putting sunscreen on Blair's brake rotors.
Dan McConnel and Paul Van Der Ploeg have a laugh about putting sunscreen on Blair’s brake rotors.

It was a tight group that led the stage, with 2011 Cape to Cape champ Andy Blair, four time World MTB Orienteering Champion Adrian Jackson, and 2009 Australian MTB Representative Brendan Johnston riding alongside Shaun Lewis and Mark Tupowski for the first half of the stage. Early on team mate Lewis put in a lot of hard work to help Blair get away and will save his legs to help build upon his lead time again tomorrow.

“It was a really fast start for around the first 20km and the main climb…the three of us just got away,” said Blair. “Those guys were really strong, but when we were pressed at the top of the course, there was a slight reluctance from everyone in the group to do too much work…there was a little bit of looking at each other and I just tried to be patient.”

The trio rode together at the front of the field for the first half of the course, before breaking away. Ultimately though, this stage once again came down to the beach portion of the day’s ride.

Blairy heads up the trio, with AJ and Brendan Johnson on his wheel. Lucky for Andy, Brendan stopped to go fishing and AJ saw a dolphin, giving Blairy the break he needed to get stage one.
Blairy heads up the trio, with AJ and Brendan Johnson on his wheel. Lucky for Andy, Brendan stopped to go fishing and AJ saw a dolphin, giving Blairy the break he needed to get stage one.

“I tried to go as hard as possible without going too hard because I wanted to make the beach my opportunity to get away”, said Blair. “The beach is a bit of a lottery and this year it was carnage. I was lucky enough to get away from Adrian Jackson at the beach.”

It was a case of deja-vu for today’s stage with Blair (Swell Specialized) claiming the leg once again in a time of 1 hour and 37 seconds . Adrian Jackson (Flight Centre Merida) followed Blair across the line around shortly thereafter at 1 hour and 39 minutes. Five time world MTB orienteering champion, Jackson, is in good form and tipped as a possible winner of the 2013 Cape to Cape MTB as he is well known to shine in these big events. Blair charged across the line like it was a sprint finish, knowing every second counts. Blair now only has to mark Adrian Jackson for the next three days and the race could be in the bag.

London 2012 Olympian Dan McConnell worked hard to set up team-mate Brendan Johnston, who crossed the line in third position with a time of 1 hour and 40 minutes.

“I managed to hang onto Blairy and AJ, but on the beach the legs crept up on me…the run off the beach is a good hike and unfortunately I wasn’t able to hang onto Blairy, he’s got longer legs than me”.

“I’ve got some good team mates here and I’m sure they’ll do all they can to help me out to gain some time back on Blairy. Getting time is something that is really hard to do and I don’t know how I’m going to do it but we’ll definitely give it a good crack”.

Cape to Cape MTB defending champion, Irish National TT Champion  and 2011 Real Insurance XCM Series Champion Jenny Fay was beaten across the line by local rider and tri-athlete Jo-Anne Bennett, who crossed the line for the ladies with a time of 02.03.23. Riding in her first Cape to Cape MTB, Bennett competed in the event for the first time.

“Jenny Fay was in front of me until we reached the beach, I jumped off the bike and that’s where my running experience kicked in”, said the Alice Springs Anaconda Enduro Winner and Coffs Harbour Marathon Winner. “From there I caught up on some time and got Jenny in the paddock. I found my second wind, put the hammer down and charged.”

Tomorrow’s stage will see riders leave Hamelin Bay for Xanadu Winery in Margaret River, across 64kms of track.