CAPE’S MIDDLE EARTH REWARDS SOME AND PUNISHES OTHERS
CAPE’S MIDDLE EARTH REWARDS SOME AND PUNISHES OTHERS
Stage three of Cape to Cape, contains the iconic Middle Earth, a section of single track that entices MTB riders from all over the country and lures them into a state of nirvana. When you finally get to ride it, the trick is to go with the flow and respect it or suffer the consequences.
Despite pressure coming from all sides and all morning, the GIANT Shimano Australia team’s love affair with Cape to Cape continued and the pair of Brendan Johnston and Jon Odams head into the final stage with a handy buffer and their minds firmly fixed on finishing off the Epic Series on fire. Exactly the way started at Port to Port almost six months ago.
“Today was hectic. I reckon that Middle Earth is the toughest, most intense bit of single track in the country and the way it is raced every year is amazing. I remember being on the ropes there last year in the wet on the single track section. Same today, Tas and Russ Nankervis were just jamming it. Obviously they wanted to distance Brent and Reece (Double Trouble) and they were just hanging it out. That single track is just so intense, you are going so hard and there are so many corners.”
With four teams coming back together on the run home and lining up for a bunch sprint to sort out the honours on Stage Three, Jon Odams said there was only one thought running through their minds.
“Coming into the last corner and you see the finish arch, there is only one thought. Bury it. But it is the second person over the line that matters and makes the difference, not the first one. That is something I think about a lot, it is not who is the strongest but who is the strongest at their weakest.”
“It was all about positioning into the finish and monitoring where each other is,” Brendan agreed. “I think we completely stitched that sprint up and did it perfectly. It worked out really well. Tomorrow is a good stage for us and everything is on track, tactically we are riding well. We are following all the moves and I think we have the legs.”
Trek Shimano’s Cam Ivory was delighted with the trails, thoroughly enjoyed the finish line push and shove and was happy to grab second place in the stage.
“The Nankervis brothers just lit it up early in Middle Earth and three teams got away and luckily we were one of those and there was a gap back to Double Trouble. But they managed to chase back on right at the end of the single track which was a bit annoying. We put the hammer down again but we all stuck together and it was a run home to the finish. I am a sprinter, so for me to have a bunch kick like that suits me and it was a lot of fun. Tomorrow is the final stage and we are still in third place on GC so we will give it everything and see what happens.”
The biggest moves of the day came in the Women’s Open Pairs, where the day started with the Fox and Racoon pair of Briony Mattocks and Anna Beck spotting the Specialised Duo roadies of Lucy Bechtel and Ellie Bloor more than two minutes.
But 56km later the technical trails extracted some revenge and the roles were dramatically reversed with several crashes and some MTB inexperience costing Ellie and Lucy dearly. They crossed almost nine minutes down, a little dirty and dusty but still in good spirits.
“I had a bit of a tumble because I needed to get the full mountain bike experience,” Ellie said. “So I somersaulted into a few tree. It has been awhile since I crashed so it was ‘Oh, yeah. That’s what it feels like.” But hopefully I don’t have to do that again tomorrow. Lucy was very smooth through the single track but I felt a little bit like a rookie and wasn’t riding smoothly. So, the mountain bikers won today.”
Team mate Lucy smiled and shrugged her shoulders, content with what they had achieved in their MTB debut and loving the experience.
“There is only so long you can hide and we got found out. We were lucky with the time trial and stage one as they played to our strengths. We have a lot to learn but that is part of it, and we enjoy the challenge. We will go home and ride through some sandpits for practice,” she laughed. “The big gains in skill development may have to wait a little bit longer than overnight but we will do what we can. We still worked well as a team and had a good time and it was kind of nice to have the pressure off and just enjoy the trails because they were pretty cool.”
The Harris family had another great day in the saddle with Holly and brother Michael warding off a raft of challenges in the Mixed Pairs, while their father David continued to enjoy the experience of the leading the Grand Masters Men Pairs.
“It is so good, we are really being challenged this race and it has been so much fun and I couldn’t think of a better bunch of people to be racing with. We are just having a ball,” Holly said. “All three teams came together at the end of the single trail and it was a matter of who could hang on. I am lucky that Mick is really strong on the road and able to help me out on the hills. Everything is going well except I had a crash. I forgot to turn my lock out off in the single trail and I just fell off or did a sick jump or something. Then Michael ran over me and I was a speed bump,” she joked.
Teaming up with Michael Riley under the pseudonym of the East Coast IPA, David Harris said he was having the time of his life, on awesome trails and with a great bunch of MTB folk.
“We are feeling pretty good and Micko riding really well. We have a good group out there and we are just looking for good bunches and enjoying our riding. The tracks are great this year and I am loving it. Tomorrow is heaven on a stick, I came over her particularly for the fourth stage. It is awesome and we are so looking forward to it, doing some jumps and whips and having some fun,” he said.
GC Teams: Open Men Pairs
1 GIANT- SHIMANO AUSTRALIA 06:09:27
2 DOUBLE TROUBLE R&R 06:09:58
3 TREK-SHIMANO AUSTRALIA 06:10:52
4 NANKERVIS CUP 06:11:21
5 VDP BANDITS - GIANT BIKES - SHIMANO 06:19:15
Stage 3 Teams: Open Men Pairs
1 GIANT- SHIMANO AUSTRALIA 02:07:04
2 TREK-SHIMANO AUSTRALIA 02:07:04
3 DOUBLE TROUBLE R&R 02:07:05
4 NANKERVIS CUP 02:07:06
5 VDP BANDITS - GIANT BIKES - SHIMANO 02:08:43
GC Teams: Open Women Pairs
1 FOX AND RACCOON 07:16:01
2 Specialized Duo 07:22:42
3 Motion girls 08:09:14
4 Sparkly Unicorns 08:24:53
5 TEAM 4T2/KALAMUNDA CYCLES 08:52:18
Stage 3 Teams: Open Women Pairs
1 FOX AND RACCOON 02:28:24
2 Specialized Duo 02:37:05
3 Sparkly Unicorns 02:44:59
4 Motion girls 02:52:03
5 TEAM 4T2/KALAMUNDA CYCLES 03:00:11
GC Teams: Mixed Pairs
1 SRAM MTOSS 06:40:50
2 SHIMANO PUSHYS CANNONDALE 06:50:07
3 MORONI BIKES BENDIGO 06:50:21
4 MTRX - CHOP CHOP RACING TEAM 06:51:44
5 Trek Shimano Australia 07:01:07
Stage 3 Teams: Mixed Pairs
1 SRAM MTOSS 02:19:35
2 SHIMANO PUSHYS CANNONDALE 02:20:36
3 MTRX - CHOP CHOP RACING TEAM 02:21:30
4 MORONI BIKES BENDIGO 02:23:15
5 Trek Shimano Australia 02:24:13