Results from Stage 2: Anzac Hill Sprint
Local junior Luke Pankhurst sped up Anzac Hill to take the win last night in a speed of 00:00:46. In the women’s Holly Harris stamped her mark on the 2015 race backing up her stage 1 win with a convincing 00:00:59.
1. Luke Pankhurst 00:00:44
2. Ben Hogarth 00:00:46
2. Jackson Curtis 00:00:46 (tie)
Holly Harris 00:00:59
Terri Rhodes 00:01:13
Kim Willocks 00:01:15
Stage 3 was the first of two identical stages held starting from the Alice Springs Golf Club. A quick jaunt out of town (about two minutes ride), the 22km course started next to the golf club and had riders set off in reverse general classification order at 30sec intervals, from slowest to fastest. This has the great effect of matching riders with others surrounding them in the general classification (GC) allowing for riders to have that carrot dangling out in front as well as the heavy breath of the rider one spot ahead of you in GC down your neck.
Having started only a few riders in to the race due to a catastrophic first stage, my own experience of the course was totally solo. Having passed the few riders heading off ahead of me very quickly, the course could be at times difficult to negotiate by oneself and I managed to overshoot many corners, an experience that would be greatly lessened when riding with those surrounding you in GC. The course itself looked fast on paper, and at times there were warp-speed sections, however many short sections of fireroad added to open the course up, ended up being rocky, sandy and slow. Definitely a good course for those with good top end speed and power. The singletrack, despite being told that it’s ‘much better worn in’ on this side of Alice, was rocky, brutal and unforgiving. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun, just that one had to earn their biscuits on this course.
In the women’s race, Holly Harris was on fire to take the win in a blistering 1:00:31, Terri Rhodes losing nearly two minutes coming in at 1:02:24, remaining in second behind Harris. Harris stated “It was so hot and dusty. I really enjoyed the flow bits of single track towards the end”. Rhodes reinforced Harris’ sentiments “It was hard. I was hoping that it wasn’t as hard as I remembered, but it was harder. The climbs, the wind…the short sharp power climbs are hard. Being cyclocross season I haven’t really done many of these”
Still early days, it’s a two-horse race and these girls are tight. It will be interesting to see how it plays out with the upcoming night stage and the longer stages on Saturday and Sunday will Rhodes’ experience be enough to deliver a stage win and some much needed minutes?
In the mens race it was a mirror image of yesterday’s stage 1 results, with nobody able to get close enough to challenge Craig Cooke who finished in 00:51:23. Ben Hogarth once again came in second followed by James Downing in third.
Cooke said if the stage “it was pretty hard going at the start, I didn’t see anyone for the first half then I caught Ben (Hogarth) and regained the 30sec on him then I started to turn the screws”. When asked if it was his intent to play it conservative in the first half he replied “definitely, I didn’t want to blow the doors off”.
1. Craig COOKE 00:51:23
2. Ben HOGARTH 00:52:41
3. James DOWNING 00:53:42
1. Holly HARRIS 01:00:31
2. Terri RHODES 01:02:24
3. Anna BECK 01:06:29
Stage 4: Cooke and Harris take more wins
Stage 4 is many people’s favourite of the week, being the second race on the 22km golf course loop, and is held at night under lights. Unlike this morning’s staggered starts, tonight’s is a mass start which can lead to some mass carnage in the early fast, flat, golf course section.
The challenge tonight would be be hitting good lines through the sand while riding under lights, and backing up after an intense stage 3 this morning. The course is quite fast, however some of the singletrack in the course is slow and demanding, so experience riding technical trails under lights is a must.
Would James Downing’s experience see him get a stage win here or will Ben Hogarth be able to back up to get a much needed victory from GC leader Craig Cooke? Time will tell and it’s still early days for the 2015 Redback. Similar to the hill sprint stage, this is often a stage that can unseat the dominant riders of the race.
Cooke admitted to having ridden under lights “maybe twice in the past 18months”.
Rhodes, Harris and Cooke all repeated the same thing when asked about their game plan for the night stage “stay out of trouble”
But it was Cooke who crossed solo for the men’s win, and Holly Harris did the same in the women’s.
Full results can be found here