Stage 4 Results (Ground Effect Night Stage)
1. Craig COOKE 00:53:27
2. Ben HOGARTH 00:55:15
3. James DOWNING 00:55:49
1. Holly HARRIS 01:03:09
2. Terri RHODES 01:04:55
3. Kim WILLOCKS 01:08:21
After the dual-stage day one and two of the Redback, day three featured only one stage. Rapid Ascent had amended the format of the race for the 2015 edition, bringing the race down to a 4-day, 6-stage race and cutting the long stage (which has varied from around 75km to around 110km in the early days). The longest stage for the new race format is on day three and is a respectable 50km.
With strong rides from both GC riders in the Ground Effect night stage last night, little had changed in the standings for the pointy end, meaning that stage 5 would be key for any riders wanting to challenge for the yellow jersey.
Having raced the Redback a few years back when it was the Ingkerreke, I remembered the stage vividly. It was the opening stage and featured some of Alice’s best rocks, ruts, sand and dirt. Todays stage didn’t disappoint. Starting from the Alice Springs’ historic Telegraph Station approx 5km from the town centre, the race started on the bank of the Todd river. Immediately the race turned left into the new Telegraph station trails, then soon onto the rugged fire-road along the fence line towards Wiggley’s Waterhole, where we headed onto Gramp track which offered phenomenal views and is quintessential Alice trail. The remaining trail to the feed-zone (at approx 30km mark) featured sweeping roller coaster, rough climbs and a few creek crossings that ended up throwing a few riders off the the marked route.
The course weaved back to the east side of town where the checkpoint was, then back into some of Alice’s most iconic trails like Sink track. Just as the sun came blazing down and the mercury peaked at 33, we popped out in the backstreets of town, just a quick aero tuck and time-trial through the back streets to the finish at Lasseters Casino.
Today’s stage was a real shake up for the GC riders; after another dominating performance in the yellow jersey at last night’s Ground Effect Stage, Craig Cooke was minutes ahead of second. Mid race reports saw Ben Hogarth leading with a small gap from junior rider Luke Pankhurst, followed by James Downing, but where was Cooke?
With around 15km to go, a rider came past as fast as light and in the yellow jersey; it was Cooke on a mission after he lost around 20min on course in bad turns.
Downing eventually clawed his way back to finish second overall behind Hogarth, who now leads the GC in the yellow jersey. When asked about his prospects for snatching the yellow jersey in tomorrow’s final stage Downing refuses to give up stating “it’s probably a little too far away from me…but never say never”. Downing said of today’s race “this stage is pretty much one of the reasons I love coming up to Alice Springs, it takes in some of the best trails and some of the most amazing scenery around here”.
In the women’s race, GC rider Holly Harris once again got off to a convincing start, leading the women’s race with an approximate two minute gap on Anna Beck, day stage rider Georgina Landy and Terri Rhodes at the feed-zone. Beck and Rhodes rode together for a while, and then at one stage Rhodes seemed to disappear. Beck ended up crossing the line first, followed by Alice Springs local Georgina Landy with Rhodes and Harris printing for third another few minutes behind. Unlike the men’s race, this doesn’t unthrone Holly from her GC position and she goes into the final stage with a five minute buffer from Rhodes.
Harris looks almost certain to wear yellow after tomorrow’s final 45km stage, but as shown in today’s race it ain’t over until it’s over
1 Ben HOGARTH 02:27:51
2 James DOWNING 02:28:35
3 Luke PANKHURST 02:34:16
1. Anna BECK 02:56:55
2. Georgina LANDY 02:57:59
3. Terri RHODES 03:00:34