The third and final day of the Lasseters Easter in the Alice MTB stage race took riders on a 40km stage of fast, flowy and smooth trails in stark contrast to yesterday’s rocky trails. With a short neutral section on sealed roads out of the historic Telegraph station riders then took at turn onto sandy 4wd trails. As soon as the lead pace vehicle pulled aside the pace was immediately ON with protagonists Brendan Johnston and Ryan Standish setting a cracking pace with local favourite Clarke Petrick also getting amongst the action in the opening kilometre’s. The initial lead group including Johnston, Standish, England, Blair, Morris, Gooley and Petrick gained a slender lead over the remainder of the field before the race hit the singletrack. The trail soon headed upward where Standish appeared to really drop the hammer on what were once his home trails. Johnston followed his lead with nobody else able to match the pace. Blair showing an impressively fast ride back toward the form of his pre injury self formed the next chase group involving himself, Luke Pankhurst and Ben Gooley. Cameo appearance from former world MTB eliminator champion Paul Van Der Ploeg gave some a surprise on the start line, however a mechanical restricted Paul from reaching the front of the race.
Ryan Standish to Brendan Johnston’s own admission dictated the pace on today’s stage trying on numerous times to rid Johnston from his wheel to no avail. The two rider’s came into the finishing straight across the sandy Todd River bed neck and neck with GC winner Brendan Johnston taking his 3rd stage win by a whisker. That clinches a clean sweep of stage victories for Brendan who now heads to the national XCM champs in Townsville as a hands down favourite to retain the jersey. There was a shakeup in the minor placings today with Michael England suffering a stomach bug and drifting back late in the stage today. Local young rider Luke Pankhurst showed his emerging talent and local knowledge by riding very fast onto the podium today not far behind the lead duo. Andy Blair came home for another 4th in front of Ben Gooley in another tight finish and rose his spot to 8th place on the GC. The women’s race took a similar structure to the previous with Jenny Blair taking a clean sweep of the stages and GC with Briony Mattocks in 2nd. Full results here.
The trails today were described as the more typical trails of the Alice region. The ‘tower trail’ with sweeping views of Alice Springs and the MacDonnell ranges is a real treat and the descent down from the ridgeline on the ‘stimpson trail’ one of the most majestic trails your tyre’s will ever be graced upon. Apart from the beauty of the scenery and the trails of the area, a big appeal of this race is experiencing a real MTB community in a remote town. The conglomeration of cyclists here in Alice are all very supportive of visitors to their area and a group of real friendly and welcoming folk who are proud of what has been achieved here in this small community. What they have achieved here is worthy of respect and deserves to be visited by mountain bikers from far and wide. To have a stage race that is also conducive to having a holiday is also a huge appeal to many riders who may be juggling family commitments whilst travelling for their MTB racing. Long live the Easter in the Alice. See you there next year.