The second round of the Australian XCM championship has been run and won in the Victorian gold mining town of Bendigo. The ‘Golden Triangle Epic’ has established itself among local recreational and nationwide elite riders alike. Drawing riders from all across the country, it is easy to see where the appeal of this event lies. The Bendigo mountain bike club has invested tens of thousands of dollars and hours of volunteer’s time to create what has become a mountain biking mecca for the region. The Spring Gully trails (5km from Bendigo CBD) are a network of singletrack catering for all levels of riders. Recently finished is a world class pump track that has become the eyre of the enthusiastic local youth. Also in production as of tomorrow is a state of the art spectator stand and club house establishing the club as a potential host for many national and international competitions/ events.
Bendigo club official Joel Rocke stated that “the growth in popularity of the sport in the region and the development of so many strong riders has motivated all club members to help pitching in to make events like the Golden Triangle Epic a success”. It is no secret now that the Bendigo club is producing some of the finest MTB talent in this country. Current XCM national champion and former road national champion Peta Mullens calls Bendigo her home club as does current U23 XCO champion Tasman Nankervis and recent graduate to the road pro tour and former MTBer Chris Hamilton amongst many others. With funding for the high performance program of mountain biking in this country taking a recent dive, local clubs are stepping up to deliver what national bodies no longer cannot. Many of the strong regional MTB clubs in Australia are now also providing a solid junior development pathway and even elite team’s to help foster the development of young athlete’s with a dream of success in our sport. The Bendigo club are a class example of this with so many rider’s progressing from it’s junior program to do great things in the sport. The wider local community has noticed the great work being done, the local federal parliamentarian was on hand to help with the podium presentations at the epic and pledged to continue with lobbying for government funding to continue to the great work of Bendigo MTB club.
There was a top quality field for both men’s and women’s duking it out for cash prizes and valuable national XCM series points at The Golden Triangle Epic. Both races got off to a very quick start with a relatively flat and open first 10km allowing a clear lead group to form. The local favourite Peta Mullens was always the rider to watch in the women’s race and did not disappoint her fans with a victory over Trek Racing’s Em Viotto from Canberra who was closely followed by Katheryn McInerny of the TORQ Merida team. Melissa Ansett and Briony Mattocks rounded out the top 5.
There were murmurings that this marathon could see the unseating of the seemingly unbeatable Brendan Johnston who has won nearly every marathon he has started for the past 2 years. The young and local trio of Ryan Standish and brothers Tasman and Russell Nankervis know these rocky yet flowy trails like the back of their hands and with Tasman recently earning the title of U23 national XCO champion it was suggested by locals he had the form to win the epic. With world 24hour champion Jason English also on the start list, a battle royale was on hand. The early lead group quickly formed containing all the above along with the very experienced Adrian Jackson and former national XCM champion Murray Spink. However it was about halfway through the race where ‘Trekky’ began to stamp his XCM authority on the race. “I knew at this point it was going to be a brutal day out” remarked eventual 3rd place Tasman Nankervis. Ryan Standish of TORQ-Merida came through the last 30km of the race at a startling pace dropping team mate Nankervis and riding on to a well earned 2nd place behind Johnston. The old guard followed not far in arears with Spink taking 4th, AJ in 5th and former pro roadie Marc Williams in 6th.
Full results here.
This race is establishing itself as a classic on the Australian calendar and with big plan’s on the horizon for the trail facilities in Bendigo it seems the race will only be getting bigger. As a key fundraiser for the amazing work of the local club it is a definite worthwhile trip.