The Bendigo MTB club has now for many years run one of Australia’s iconic marathon MTB events. The ‘Golden Triangle Epic’, held in the gold mining town of Bendigo about 1.5 hours drive from Melbourne has played host to some of the most exciting races and racers on the famed 52km loop that XCM racers complete twice. This year was no different.
Bendigo is a town steeped in cycling history and tradition. More Australian cycling champions across all disciplines have been born & developed in the Bendigo postcode than any other in Australia. From an outsider’s perspective this may seem odd and puzzling as to why. With this my 3rd trip to the ‘GTE’ it is obvious to me why this community is well known for developing champion riders and champion people.
The Bendigo MTB club fosters a supportive, encouraging community from the grass roots up to the professional level. Regular races and events are held locally, all the club volunteers are passionate about the sport and seeing the next generation succeed and thrive on the good things this sport has to offer. The names are endless that have come through the Bendigo MTB program to achieve greatness in cycling… Chris Hamilton, Peta Mullens, Jack Haig, Darren Lapthorne, Tasman and Russell Nankervis and also to note the late Jason Lowndes who tragically passed away earlier this year in a road accident. A tragedy that has commanded the great support that the community in this town is renown for.
The progressive vision of the Bendigo MTB club and the GTE was on display Sunday, a 35km kids race was held with dozens upon dozens of entrants all around the age 10 shredding around the Spring Gully MTB trails. As I rode through the long stream of kids racing I was caught out as many of them were riding the more technical sections with a lot more style than myself. I was seeing jumps, weight back on rocky descents, fast and skilfull cornering on dusty trails and mega air! This is such an encouraging sight for our sport, when I entered XC MTB racing in 2001, I remember lining up with about 3 or 4 other U17 riders at NSW races which was the norm. The future is bright thanks to forward thinking clubs like this and others (New England MTB in Armidale also runs a fabulous juniors program). It would be even more encouraging if this support was continued by the high performance powers that be within our cycling federation..
All action in the marathon
In the mens elite race today a battle royale was on the cards! With the presence of current XCO national champion Cameron Ivory many heads were turned. Could Cam push the seemingly unstoppable force of Australian XCM racing Mr Brendan Johnston? Also with locals Tasman and Russell Nankervis who know these trails inside out, the return of Australian XCM world champs rep Michael England and former XCM and 24hour national champion Jason English. There were many ways in which this race could play out. A leading group of 6 emerged in the first lap including the likely suspects of Johnston, Ivory, T. & R. Nankervis, England and young in form Jay Vine who recently placed 2nd at the AMB100. Vine attended to his wife who was hurt in her own race and therefore left the race.
The pace was then pushed in this group from all reports stemming from the work of Ivory, this narrowed the group to 3 with Johnston and T. Nankervis. This group accumulated a large gap with even time for a nature break. Then arguably the two finest MTB riders in the country at present Ivory and Johnston stamped their authority dropping Tasman. Ivory then pushed the pace in the final lap of 2 opening a gap to Johnston whom was suffering drivetrain issues. Cam then had his own bad luck with the snapping of a pivot bolt. Brendan Johnston although having mechanical issues of his own caught Ivory and carried on for the win. Cam Ivory would push through for 2nd.
The manner of these two riders post race speaks to their professionalism and an example of the way riders conduct themselves after bad luck converse to what we recently witnessed at the Commonwealth Games MTB race. Tasman Nankervis would prove his form is well on the way back after a recent broken hand up holding on to 3rd in front of a fast finishing Michael England. England was pleased with his form leading into National Champs “I could see myself catching Tasman in the closing stages” admitted England. Bendigo local and brother of Tasman Russell Nankervis rounded out the top 5 for the men.
The women’s race proved to be very close with somewhat evenly matched competition at the top end of the results. A SPRINT finish was on the line for the win between April McDonough from the ‘Flanders’ MTB team and Kim Willocks from Mornington Cycles team. Coming into the finishing berm with only 100m to go, Kim appearing to suffer from an aggressive cramp had a crash allowing April to roll through for the win, Kim thankfully was injury free and rolled over in 2nd. Then not far in arrears was 3rd place rider Courtney Sherwell. These 3 were in a strong position and seemingly had their own battles among the front of the race. 4th was Carmen De Rooze and 5th Helen Yates.
Full results here.
A superb run event as always by Bendigo MTB club. Get this one on your ‘race list’ only 90mins from Melbourne airport access is easy and is worth the trip from wherever you may come.