The 2017 Cape to Cape has been running like clockwork. About 1800 riders have descended into the red dirt, loam, sand and limestone trails of Margaret River, for the 4 stages of racing. Brendan Johnston is leading Open Men and Samara Sheppard is leading Open Women.
But, there’s 50km still to go and nothing is certain until the race is over.
Right now, the general classification looks like this:
- Brendan Johnston – 6:45:10.9
- Tasman Nankervis – 6:47:38.5
- Cameron Ivory – 6:49:56.5
- Andy Blair – 6:50:43.5
- Rohin Adams – 6:51:02.1
With a bit over 2 minutes as a lead, it is unlikely Brendan Johnston feels overly secure in his race lead. He’s a savvy operator and not known for losing his cool, thrashing his bike in races, or making mistakes. But bike racing throws up surprises, and something as simple as a branch tearing a derailleur off (as happened to his team mate Russ Nankervis today) could mean he would lose his lead.
Tasman Nankervis won Cape to Cape in 2016 and clearly is in good shape. He has a good team mate in Ryan Standish, but these two would really have to attack Johnston again and again to make an impact. And Johnston has showed many times over that he is strong enough to handle that.
Cameron Ivory is another couple of minutes back from Tasman Nankervis, but what he is here with team mate Andy Blair, who is in 4th on GC. The Specialized Team have a history of smart team work and there’s every chance these two could use their fitness and race craft to design a stage win, and maybe some leap frogging on GC on the final stage.
But if I was to place a bet, I can’t see Brendan Johnston not winning tomorrow. He has the class, the experience and should also have the support from team mates like Russ Nankervis, Reece Tucknott and Callum Carson.
In the women’s general classification, Samara Sheppard is wearing the pink jersey. The top 5 looks like this:
- Samara Sheppard: 7:22:00.2
- Peta Mullens: 7:38:14.1
- Renata Bucher: 7:41:03.5
- Jessica Simpson: 7:51:47.5
- Briony Mattocks: 7:55:42.9
It’s probably fair to say that 16 minutes is close to untouchable. Samara Sheppard loks set to win another Cape to Cape title, adding to her 2016 title. Of course, it’s bike racing and anything can happen. But it would need to be substantial.
Behind Samara, things look a little closer. Peta Mullens shed some time on Stage 3 to Renata Bucher, who lost time with a flat on Stage 2. These two have gone head to head plenty of times, and Stage 4 could be a close battle for the 2nd step on the podium between these two.
In 4th and 5th, there could be a good fight between Jessica Simpson and briony Mattocks. While Simpson has finished ahead of Mattocks on Stages 1 and 2, Stage 3 turned around and Mattocks won a few minutes back. Can she find 4 minutes tomorrow? It’s a lot of time to find in 50km but it’s not impossible. It should be another exciting day in the women’s field.
As it stands, it looks like Brendan Johnston will win his first Cape to Cape, and Samara Sheppard will win her 2nd. Anything can happen tomorrow, and there are plenty of riders out there hungry for a stage win.