After a deceptively tough Stage 1 at the 2018 Lasseters Easter in the Alice, racers lined up again for a much different Stage 2 at the historic Telegraph Station this morning for a 7am start. While this was the first building in Alice Springs, and the site of the original spring, since then the Telegraph Station has become the hub for the well-marked mountain bike trails in Alice Springs, and there is a cafe right onsite.
From the start we went straight out of the Telegraph Station, onto a fast, wide singletrack with a few small step ups that caused some chaos further back. A mixture of small features like this started to make enough of a split. The lead four of Cam Ivory, Brendan Johnston, Ryan Standish and Andrew Blair were away.
The coming kilometres of trail were fast, slidey and seemingly right into the low sun! The light and dust meant riding was part guess work, part judgement and a fair bit of blind faith.
In time I was on my own, unable to stay on the wheels in front. Behind, the women’s leader Anna Beck was closing in, with Karen Hill (2nd in Stage 1) right on her wheel. Once I’d pulled over to let them past it was Hill leading Beck. Dean Hill was also making ground up from the Masters and Open start which had been 1 minute behind the elite start.
About 10km in I found some legs again (and some better vision) and tried to get back into a groove on the trails. Today’s trails were far tighter and rockier than yesterday, and the course had plenty of abrupt changes of direction when moving from one trail to the next. So at times it was fast and flowing, then tight and technical step ups or big roll downs. It was a really varied day.
In the end I finished 7th, a little better than yesterday but not in any useful way. Cam Ivory and Brendan Johnston had ridden together almost the whole race, after losing Ryan Standish at the Three Sisters climb. While Johnston had attacked Ivory, the National XCO Champion was able to come wide in the grassy turn after the Todd River crossing (it’s all sand, if you’ve never been) and take Johnston right on the line.
Standish crossed a few minutes down in 3rd with Blair 4th and Oliver Hartung back in 5th.
By the finish Anna Beck had got away from Karen Hill, coming in about 1:45 ahead of the Victorian. 3rd place went to Kim Willocks with Em Viotto just behind. Imogen Smith came across in 5th. Full elite results are online.
Dean Hill won the Master’s event, but is heading home early so the lead will no doube fall to David Mason. Full age group results are online.
Tomorrow’s stage is a little longer, but also said to be faster with trails that flow a little more – can’t wait!