Thanks to Bob Taylor and Ben Gooley for the use of their images.
Cooler temperatures greeted riders this morning as they lined up for the last stage of Lasseters Easter in the Alice stage race. Having endured desert weather of soaring temperatures and low humidity for the last two days, light cloud cover and temperatures in the mid-twenties were very welcome.
Stage 5 took in 60 kilometres of Alice’s finest singletrack, starting at the historic Telegraph Station, now the town’s MTB hub, riders headed straight into the deep sand of the dry Todd River and straight into flowing red dirt singletrack, interrupted by only a few stretches of sandy fire road for the whole stage.
Again, the men’s race was between Andy Blair and Chris Jongewaard who, separated by less than two minutes, battled it out at the front of the race. Behind them the other men started at a (relatively) leisurely pace, but gaps formed soon after the second crossing of the Todd, with the usual mix of Downing, Mather, Hanson, and English fighting for the remaining places on the podium.
The women’s race was again utterly dominated by Jenny Blair, followed by Melissa Anset and Imogen Smith. Blair clearly has her eyes on the remaining National XCM rounds and the XCM National Championship jersey, and will be one of the hot favourites when the women line up in Derby in May.
After less than two-and-a-half hours, Jongewaard again emerged from the desert victorious, winning the three-day event, but again tailed closely by Andrew Blair, who takes second overall, riding in with Ben Mather in third. The women’s rankings remain unchanged, with Blair in first, Anset in second, and Subaru-MarathonMTB.com’s Smith in third.
All that is left now is the presentations at Stage 5!
This year’s event has attracted some of Australia’s finest racers and lots of happy competitors. Race Organiser John Pyper is already promising a bigger and better event next year, and it’s an easy one to plan your holidays for. It’ll be at Easter.