This race report has been provided by Briony Mattocks.
Western Australia couldn’t have turned on better weather for the the final stage of Cape to Cape, which started in the sun at Margaret River’s Colonial Brewery. After negotiating a rather immediate water crossing and large fence, the mass of riders rolled out on to the roads with 64km of heated racing ahead given both the men’s and women’s racing was wide open in all categories, from elite to masters.
Cape to Cape stage win for local lad
Local boy Reece Tucknott from Trek Racing Australia was soon on the gas, breaking away down the road with little appetite from other riders to follow. Instead, there was a lot of watching, waiting and random attacks as the big teams battled it out for Brendan Johnson (Trek), Chris Hamilton (Torq) and Tasman Nankervis (Torq), who were looking to both hold and improve their General Classification positions.
The women’s race was also playing as a game of cat and mouse between leader Samara Shepherd and Peta Mullens for the overall win. With 20seconds or so up her sleeve, Samara held the cards, but was still more than happy to ride aggressively, launching multiple attacks and eventually breaking away on a climb.
Back in third, forth and fifth, I had a real battle on my hands after getting caught up in a crash (apologies to the gentleman I ran over) and had to expend a great deal of energy trying to catch the flying Jo Bennett and Jessica Simpson who were rapidly disappearing into the distance in a large group on the bitumen. Eventually catching on again, it was a battle to see who could manage the powerful accelerations out of the corners and spin the fastest on the roads given our mountain bikes gearing.
The highlight of today in terms of trails was definitely the aptly named “Middle Earth”, which saw riders snake through tight and twisty trails with highly amusing “Hobbit-style” naming conventions. At times the racing turned into a group of mates doing skids and jumps over the endless rollers and through the sweeping berms. Running my tyre pressures slightly higher today meant there were a few loose moments in the pea gravel (somewhat akin to Bambi on Ice) – I don’t think I was the only one either looking at some of the war wounds at the finish line.
The back end of the stage was all about raw power on the roads – a mixture of tar and dirt – whereby you were either soft pedalling tucked away in a bunch or suffering through your own V02 max test as you tried to gap between (or back on to) the wheels in front. It was nice to finish with a few kilometres on single-track where depending on where you sat, you could enjoy the loose corners and cheering crowds before finishing at the Dunsborough Country Club (complete with lawn bowlers).
In the end, Tucknott managed to solo for 40km for the stage victory – one of the biggest in his career to date and in front of his home crowd. Nankervis crossed in second with Johnson hot on his heals, meaning overall GC honours will stay with Torq, as they did with Tristan Ward at Port to Port. Brendon Johnson finished second overall, with Chris Hamilton (and his safety pinned knicks) third, Kyle Ward forth and Craig Cooke fifth.
Shepherd’s aggressive riding style meant that she crossed the line in front of Mullens to secure a Cape to Cape victory – one she can proudly sit next to her Port to Port victory earlier this year. After spending most of the day yo-yoing off the back of a bunch I held on for third, with Jo Bennett and Jessica Simpson forth and fifth respectively. It was a real shame that Jenny Blair had to pull out due to illness – the mother of a 6 month year old really showed her class on the first two stages with solid results, which to be honest I expected would only improve as the race went on.
The ever-green Jon Gregg tied up the Masters title, with Marie-Claude Baars taking home the purple jersey for the masters women.